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Nationwide police action targets synthetic drug makers, sellers; Watertown, Syracuse shops raided

A first-ever nationwide raid on the synthetic drug industry was conducted yesterday, and hit stores in Watertown, Syracuse and around the area. The raid follows a new federal law that bans many of the chemical compounds used to make synthetic drugs like bath salts.

The raids targeted manufacturing facilities and retail outlets for the drugs in 91 cities, in 30 states. At a Washington D.C. press conference Thursday about Operation Log Jam, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart described the growing problems associated with synthetic drugs.

"In just one year, calls to the Posion Control Centers about synthetic cannabinoids, such as Spice and K2, have more than doubled," Leonhart said. "And the calls regarding synthetic cathinones, marketed as bath salts, have increased more than twentyfold."

Leonhart said Operation Logjam executed 265 search warrants in the raids, and over $36 million in cash was seized, along with 53 weapons, nearly 5 million packets of synethetic cannabinoids and 167,000 packets of synthetic cathinones, plus more raw materials to make both drugs.

Federal, state and local agencies collaborated in the raids. James Chaparro of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that although the formulas for the drugs are complex, the raids' message was simple:

"These drugs are dangerous, and they are illegal. If you're involved in the manufacture, importation, distribution or sale of these illicit chemicals, we will come after you," Chaparro said.