OSWEGO, NY – The passing of the new state Health Department regulations, announced earlier this month by Gov. Cuomo, is what propmted the Oswego Police Department’s recent investigation into local head shops.
The issuance of the search warrants based on evidence discovered during the course of those investigations is what gave OPD the authority, Chief Tory DeCaire explained.
Any charges potentially related to the recently passed legislation are pending the results of lab tests. The arrests made (Wednesday) are from information obtained during the course of the investigation.
Three people were arrested on Wednesday charged with second-degree criminally using drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor.
Those arrested were employees of their respective establishments.
The charge reflects not simply what the items are, but also their intended use, the chief said.
There were no arrests announced Thursday at Xtreme Underground and Bodified.
However, the investigation is ongoing, the chief reiterated.
“Those arrests made Wednesday are based on information obtained during the course of the investigation and not based on whether any suspected synthetic drug was discovered at a specific location,” Chief DeCaire clarified. “Any arrests/charge(s) related to the suspected synthetic material are pending lab results.”
The chief added he doesn’t know for sure how long it will take the lab to get everything tested and send the results to OPD. It could be a few weeks, minimum, he said.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when issues began appearing with regard to synthetic drugs, he said.
“It is safe to say that incidents involving synthetic drugs and the awareness of the synthetic drug issue have certainly increased over the last year or two,” he said.
Currently, in order to make a determination as to whether or not a substance is in fact considered a “synthetic drug,” law enforcement must rely on laboratory tests.
“Law enforcement officers are trained to deal with a wide variety of issues and are expected to make split-second decisions based on that training and experience. Dealing with this relatively new issue of synthetic drugs certainly creates a challenge for law enforcement, but with continued training, updated legislation and a coordinated effort, we can make a difference and try to keep the public and ourselves, safe in the process,” DeCaire told Oswego County Today.
“It would be naive to believe that all use, sale and distribution of synthetic drugs is to be contributed to commercial businesses,” he added. “Individuals can and will be held criminally liable for their involvement in the illegal use, sale and distribution of these substances as the law enforcement investigations may dictate.”
OPTIONS TO JAIL TIME
Not all of those charged in connection with synthetic drugs automatically wind up behind bars.
“Recently, I have been interviewing a lot more people who have been abusing bath salts. We don’t exclude people with bath salts, but some people have been vetoed because of the crimes they committed while under the influence,” said David Guyer, Resource Coordinator for Oswego County Drug Court.
For example he points to the case of a guy in his mid-30s who has a minimal criminal record.
“He committed a house burglary while under the influence while the owner was home,” he said. “This person was vetoed by the D.A.’s Office.”
Essentially, they follow the same program that anyone else would, Guyer said, adding, “Nothing specific has been developed for bath salt users.”
The program is an alternative to prison for those 16 and older who have substance-abuse problems and have pleaded guilty to nonviolent crimes.
It requires weekly meetings with the judge, who closely monitors the participants’ progress.
Participants are also required to enroll in a substance-abuse program and attend self-help meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
They’re tested randomly for drugs up to several times a week. They also may have seven or eight meetings a week. There are sanctions for missing a meeting or other infractions.
Drug Treatment Court began in August 1999 and isn’t just a slap on the wrist, Guyer explained. Several, over the years, have been dropped from the program, many of whom have gone to prison, he noted.