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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wichita police break up ‘open-air’ drug operation at North Broadway hotel

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

Wichita police capped a three-month undercover operation early Friday morning by arresting or detaining eight people linked to an illegal drug operation at the Mark 8 Inn on North Broadway.

About 40 Wichita police officers and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents swooped into the motel at 1130 N. Broadway at about 6:30 a.m. Friday to break up what Capt. Jeff Easter called “open-air drug sales” in the motel’s rooms and hallways.

Responding to complaints by residents of the neighborhood and out-of-state visitors who had stayed at the motel while visiting relatives at nearby Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, undercover officers embarked on a three-month investigation, Easter said.

The undercover officers bought drugs at the motel on four different occasions, he said.

Customers would come into the lobby of the motel, where they would meet someone and be directed to particular rooms or hallways for “hand-to-hand” sales of cocaine or marijuana.

Investigators think two managers at the motel were complicit in the operation, though they were not among the eight arrested or detained.

“They knew what was going on,” Easter said.

Authorities were still collecting evidence at the motel as of late Friday morning, he said. It’s not known yet how much cocaine, cash and marijuana were seized.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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