Police raided shops across upstate New York on Wednesday suspected of selling illegal synthetic drugs, including so-called "bath salts" that were recently banned by federal law.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, state troopers, the attorney general's office and local police raided shops in western, northern and central New York and the Southern Tier.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law earlier this month that bans the sale, production and possession of more than two dozen of the most common bath salt drugs. The synthetic drugs mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.
Law enforcement officials refer to the drugs collectively as "bath salts," though they have nothing in common with the fragrant toiletries used to moisturize skin.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul in Buffalo said Wednesday that a Williamsville man was arrested on drug charges, accused of selling synthetic marijuana from two shops in Tonawanda, where authorities also seized bath salts.
Hochul later said three other people from western New York were charged in an investigation of synthetic drugs from several businesses known as 420 Emporium, which has locations in Rochester, Brockport and Batavia in his western district, as well as Fulton and Syracuse in central New York.
U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian in Albany said search warrants were being executed, but he declined to discuss the operation.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reported that Tebbs Head Shops in Syracuse, Fulton, Oneida and Watertown were raided, as well as another store near Elmira.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office recently filed lawsuits in 12 counties accusing 16 stores of violating state labeling laws, after investigators found shop employees selling bath salts and other synthetic drugs in packages that failed to identify ingredients.