Three head shops taken down for illegal synthetic drugs



NOT LEGAL NOW — More than 2,500 individual packages of synthetic marijuana and $16,000 cash were seized from The Stash House on Main Street in Oneida on Tuesday. The products were banned by the state on March 29. (Sentinel photo by Sean Mills)

ONEIDA — More than $100,000 worth of synthetic drugs were seized during three drug raids at The Stash House head shop franchises in Madison and Onondaga counties Tuesday.

Five people were charged as part of the multi-agency investigation in Oneida, Lakeport and Brewerton.

The synthetic drugs — most often synthetic marijuana — were seized as part of a statewide ban by the New York State Health Department, according to Oneida Police Chief David R. Meeker Sr. The criminal charges stem from quantities of bath salts and marijuana also found during the Tuesday afternoon raids.

Synthetic drugs are "a major concern," said State Police Lt. Michael Ten Eyck. "I don’t know if it’s at epidemic proportions, but it’s a major concern."

¿ Two employees of The Stash House on Main Street in Oneida were taken into custody during a raid at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Meeker said. Owner’s assistant Raymond H. Newkirk, 43, of Schepps Corners Road, Kirkville, and employee Ashley M. Delaney, 18, of West Elm Street, Oneida, are both charged with one count each of seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance for possession and sale of bath salts, which contained the controlled substance Mephedrone.

Police said The Stash House in Oneida had $56,630 worth of synthetic marijuana for sale, some of which was on display and some of which was hidden. Police also seized $16,000 cash that was used in the transactions for the banned substances.

"They are aware that they cannot sell it," Meeker said. The ban went into effect on March 29. "People come in and they know what to ask for."

¿ Three people were charged with possessing either bath salts or marijuana during a raid at The Stash House on Brewerton Road in Brewerton Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. The identities of those charged were not released. Authorities said they seized $41,000 worth of synthetic drugs and $1,000 cash.

¿ The third Stash House franchise on Route 31 in Lakeport was also raided Tuesday afternoon, with arrests pending. Police said they seized $4,800 worth of synthetic marijuana, 166 packages of bath salts and $230 cash.

Authorities said the investigation into the Stash House franchises is ongoing. Further charges and arrests are pending laboratory testing on the seized drugs.

Following the statewide ban, the City of Rome issued a city ordinance making possession and sale of synthetic drugs illegal. Oneida city officials said they do not have such an ordinance in place, and will rely on the state Health Department’s ban to seize the synthetic drugs.