Meth Lab

Two Oklahoma men pleaded guilty in connection with the operation of a meth lab inside an Elkridge hotel room. Two other men charged in the case already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Charges against a fifth man were dropped. (Photo by Sarah Hogue / June 5, 2012)

Five men, all from outside Maryland, were arrested Monday night after Howard County Police found three of the men, along with chemicals believed to be methamphetamine, inside an Elkridge hotel room.

Police were responding to an anonymous call, which came in around 10:40 p.m. Monday, reporting that a meth lab was being operated inside a room at the Holiday Inn Express, located in the 6000 block of Marshalee Drive.

Officers arrived at the scene and "detected a strong, unusual odor near the door of a room on the fourth floor," police said.

After knocking on the door and being allowed in, the officers found the chemicals and placed the three men in custody. A fourth man showed up at the room and also was arrested. The fifth man, who was staying in the room, was found wandering the parking lot and arrested, police said.


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The five men have been charged with drug manufacturing, drug possession and possession with intent to distribute. They are:

Josiah David Martin, 23, of Swansboro, N.C.; Amos Joel Martin, 20, of Mesick, Mich.; Spencer Allen Smith, 22, of Lock Haven, Pa.; and Forrest Derrick Rhoades, 34, and Joshua Wade Matthews, 33, both of Sallisaw, Okla.

Police said they believe the men checked into the hotel on Saturday. Police later served a search warrant and found heroin and a handgun.

Members of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services were called to the scene late Monday and evacuated the rooms on the fourth floor of the motel, as well as the rooms above and below the suspects' room. Guests waited in the hotel lobby, police said, and were allowed back into their rooms a few hours later.

Detectives believe the methamphetamine was intended for use among the five men, police said. The men were traveling in the area for work, and investigators believe they were manufacturing the drugs because they were unable to find methamphetamine locally, police said.

Police have contacted the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which has meth lab specialists, for assistance.

Staff writer Sara Toth contributed to this report.