Theft report results in 2 arrests when officers discover drugs being sold out of local motel

Stock image | Photo by Matt Gush/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A stolen cell phone report led officers to discover an alleged drug-selling operation taking place at a local motel on South Bluff Street, where a local couple was arrested and transported to jail.

L-R: Amanda Cori Gonzales, 44, of Washington City; Brian Kelly Harrison, 33, of St. George, booking photos taken in Washington County, Utah, Aug. 12, 2020 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Wednesday, officers responded to a theft reported at the Claridge Inn on South Bluff Street involving two motel guests who reported that their cell phones were missing from the room.

Officers spoke to hotel staff, who reported that after the elderly guests had reported the missing cell phones, they reviewed surveillance footage that showed an individual walking into the reporting party’s room located on the first floor of the hotel. Minutes later the same individual was seen leaving the room and heading to a room on the second floor of the hotel.

After confirming with the guests that their cell phones were in fact stolen, officers went to the room on the second floor, which was rented to 44-year-old Amanda Gonzales, who answered the door and spoke with police outside in the hallway. Gonzales denied any knowledge of the cell phones being taken and said she unaware of anything being brought into the room, but the officer noticed in his report that she did say there had been “multiple people going in and out [of the room] since yesterday.”

Gonzales was initially unable to provide any last names to police of who had come into the room, but then she gave conflicting accounts, telling officers that only her grandmother was in the room with her. She later admitted that her husband, 33-year-old Brian Harrison, shared the room with her, and she ultimately consented to a search of the room.

Upon entering the room, officers smelled burnt and raw marijuana and found Gonzales’ grandmother in the room as well. Harrison was taking a shower when officers entered the motel room and commenced the search.

Inside the nightstand drawer, officers found a pipe and small electronic scale, and police recovered multiple packages of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine from a large purse hanging on the wall, along with baggies containing marijuana and a brown substance that appeared to be heroin, as well as tinfoil, straws and other paraphernalia. Officers also found more than $300 in cash separated out into three bundles inside of the suspect’s purse.

As soon as officers read Gonzales her rights she requested an attorney.

During the entire time of the search, Harrison remained in the bathroom, and officers noticed that the shower had been turned off and on multiple times. When he came out he “claimed ignorance to the drugs found inside the room,” the officer recounted, but admitted to staying in the room since the previous day. During a search of the bathroom, officers recovered more paraphernalia.

Harrison said he was willing to answer questions and admitted to ownership of some of the suspected evidence in the room. He also admitted to using marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin every day, the officer stated.

“After a search of the motel room, I found evidence to support that Amanda and Brian were selling drugs out of their hotel room,” the officer noted.

Both were placed under arrest and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility, each facing two second-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute a schedule one drug, one count each of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

Harrison and Gonzales remain in custody on $15,000 bail each.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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