Synthetic drug raids in upstate New York
Posted at: 07/25/2012 11:19 PM
| Updated at: 07/25/2012 11:54 PM
By: Lynette Adams | WHEC.com
State and federal agents stepped up their crackdown on synthetic drugs Wednesday, when they raided “head” shops across upstate New York.
These drugs, called bath salts, mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines, and other illegal stimulants. They were recently banned by the federal government.
Police say they have been going into shops and buying products right off the shelves. They say they bought a variety of synthetic narcotics. All of this came about because of neighbors’ complaints.
"It’s one thing to read about it happening in other towns, but when it’s happening a few doors up from your home, it’s scary,” said Kyle Couchman of Batavia.
Couchman is a little less scared now, thanks to the work of federal agents and State Police. They raided the 420 Emporium, and as of Wednesday night, it is closed.
“It’s really good news because we did a protest over here last week to try to get them shut down, and to hear that they were paying attention and in the process of doing that, just feels great,” Couchman said.
Police descended on the Batativa store and two other 420 Emporium stores – one in Henrietta, and another in Brockport on Wednesday. News 10NBC was in Brockport when the raid happened there.
Federal authorities say these stores are outlets for the highly dangerous and unpredictable bath salts and synthetic drugs. U.S. attorney Bill Hochul says these drugs have created an epidemic.
“We have reports on almost a daily basis of people in Western New York who are overdosing after they ingest these substances – of panic attacks, paranoia, elevated heart rates – and those are only the short term effects.”
Some of what agents confiscated included packets and vials labeled, for example, as “Exuberance Powder” and “Voodoo” – all bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Police also collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and arrested three people. Late Wednesday afternoon, federal authorities told News 10NBC they raided the Greece home of the owner of these stores. He was not arrested.
James Burns, Jr., DEA Special Agent in Charge, said, “These folks who are manufacturing this stuff are not in it for the humanitarian reasons, or altruistic reasons. That right there is why they’re in this business and that’s why they’re selling these substances.”
Federal authorities say they anticipate more arrests in this case. We can also report that federal agents raided other establishments Wednesday: two other 420 Emporium stores in the Central New York area, another store in Buffalo, and elsewhere across the country.
The stores can open again Thursday. The store clerks, Joshua Denise of Batavia, Michelle Condidorio of Leroy, and Austin Szczur of Rochester, were arrested. They have been accused of intending to sell and selling these synthetic drugs.
For more Rochester, NY news, go to our website, www.whec.com.