The synthetic drugs raids made news across the country Wednesday, but they're already a familiar sight in the Mohawk Valley. Our Andrew Sorensen was in Utica, where law enforcement has been focusing on bath salts for some time.
MOHAWK VALLEY, N.Y. -- As the Drug Enforcement Agency raided multiple locations across the state for synthetic drug violations, they followed in the footsteps of what officials are already doing in Oneida County.
Utica's Mayor Robert Palmieri joined several other municipalities by signing a synthetic drugs ban two weeks ago. Utica Police have already started enforcing it, raiding this head shop last Friday and seizing nearly 300 packages of synthetic drugs. They say this crackdown is only the beginning.
"I would anticipate in the future seeing many arrests if the drug continues to be out there openly for people to possess," said Utica Police Department Sgt. Steve Hauck.
The violation in the city has a fairly light punishment attached.
Unless the DEA finds the specific chemicals banned under the most recent federal law, the shops they raided could be open and selling again soon, at least until September for those in Oneida County.
"Rather than look and wait for different, you know, the state or the feds to get something more comprehensive, we felt the need to put something in place to deal with what is becoming an epidemic," Oneida county Executive Anthony Picente said.
County Executive Anthony Picente released a draft of a new law Wednesday calling the situation an emergency. A long list of synthetic drugs and any new tweaked form of the drugs designed to skirt the law would be a misdemeanor. The county would like to go even farther.
"The other piece we have to center in on is informing our people on how to deal with this, we've established training for our employees that are on the front lines dealing with the public and the courts and we'll be expanding that as we go forward," Picente said.