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5 arrests, 100 packets of suspected synthetic drugs at Syracuse and Binghamton stores

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
Examples of synthetic drugs.

New York State Police have announced that over the past few days they have seized 100 packets of what they suspect are synthetic drugs and made five arrests at two convenience stores in Syracuse and one in Binghamton. The suspects will face misdemeanor charges.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has a different strategy this year to combat the drugs, which comes with a new economic risk. Store owners found guilty of selling synthetic drugs can lose their lottery license, liquor license, and the store itself could be shutdown.  

“From a store owner’s point of view, for a relatively minor reward, you are running an extraordinary risk of losing your entire business,” Cuomo said. "The state police are very aggressive. You sell this, it's a crime and you can go to jail. If you are a store and you're selling this material, you can be put out of business."    

Individuals were arraigned on Monday, the stores themselves will be subject to a health commissioner’s order and should be closed by Tuesday. Store owners will have an opportunity for a hearing to raise objections. Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters that the state is trying to prevent synthetic drugs from moving upstate from New York City by quickly stamping out the stores where the drugs are sold.

New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said new 2015 regulations have added hundreds of compounds to the list of banned substances. Synthetic drugs come in a variety of colorful packets with different names and are usually sold at a convenience store. More than 1,000 people in the state outside of New York City were admitted to treatment programs for synthetic drug use last year.   

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.