Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse area’s Gang Violence Task Force has been able to make a dent in some of the city’s gang activity this summer with its most recent crackdown on gangs.

There are 17 distinct criminal gangs spread out among several Syracuse neighborhoods, according to the Gang Violence Task Force. With names like Bricktown, Elk Block and the Northside Bloods, officials they are the source of much of the crime in the city.  

State heroin task force meeting around the state

May 12, 2015

New York senators are calling heroin and opioid addiction an epidemic in the state.

New Yorkers in recovery for heroin addiction, their families, health care providers, and law enforcement gave testimony recently in the Rochester-area about the escalating problem.

Last year, Monroe County saw a 40 percent increase in overdose fatalities linked to opioids.

Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Tim Prosperi says the problem touches people of all backgrounds.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News

Law enforcement and elected officials have again found themselves trying to keep ahead of an outbreak of synthetic drugs in central New York.

Local legislative action and federal law enforcement raids of area head shops three years ago quelled a rash of overdoses in upstate New York on synthetic drugs, often called bath salts.

Julia Botero / WRVO

Thirty-three drug dealers have been indicted for operating drug rings that funneled heroin and cocaine into St. Lawrence County. Thursday in Watertown, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman congratulated his organized crime task force and a team of state and local police for shutting down a major drug operation in the North Country. 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York is now the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law. But, it will be some time before patients will have access to the drug.

New York will now permit patients with diseases like cancer and AIDS to have access to some forms of medical marijuana. Cuomo, who in the past opposed the idea, came around  after several new regulations and restriction guarantees were written into the legislation.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Story updated on Monday, May 12 at 8:00 a.m.

On the SUNY Oswego campus, students say they are still coming to terms with the weekend's heroin overdoses, in which one student died and two others were hospitalized.

Many students say they are uncomfortable talking about the subject. One student, Jessie Brandt, said she was scared when she first saw the emergency alerts on her phone.

Sen. Charles Schumer called on New York state education officials to curb the abuse of stimulative drugs used to help get students through all-night study sessions.

Schumer asked SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Committee on Independent Colleges and University President Laura Anglin to take steps to stop abuse of drugs he calls addictive and dangerous.

Now that the abuse of the designer drug bath salts seems to be easing, scientists are warning of a new chemical cocktail. The drug called "smiles" has started making an appearance in upstate New York.

Lewis County to consider synthetic drug ban

Aug 6, 2012

Like many other local governments in New York responding to the bizarre behavior of people using the drugs known as “bath salts,” Lewis County is considering a ban on many of the compounds used in synthetic drugs.

The ban would outlaw bath salts and synthetic marijuana, sold under the brand names Spice and K2, among others.

Community meetings take aim at “bath salts” drugs

Jul 27, 2012

Community meetings are popping up as fast as the bizarre stories surrounding a drug known as bath salts or glass cleaner. The drugs are sold in head shops and convenience stores – they are not typical bath products or window cleaners. Three meetings in Jefferson County this week aimed to address the growing drug problem.

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.

When state lawmakers approved the budget this week, they restored a program that's vital to many senior citizens. Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage, known as EPIC, helps low and moderate income seniors with co-pays for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare Part-D. When it was defunded last year, seniors were forced to pay 25% of the costs of prescriptions. This made necessary prescriptions unaffordable for some.

Pharmacists at drug stores like the Gifford and West Pharmacy in Syracuse ran into a lot of problems when EPIC stopped helping seniors pay for prescription drugs. Gifford pharmacist Jim McLaughlin encountered many patients who had high co-pays and were forced to pay.

"It ends up costing more. Patients go without their medications and their symptoms start to come back, or they end up being hospitalized," McLaughlin said.

New York State has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana products. Marketed as “herbal incense” and sold under names like Spice and K2, the fake pot has been popular with people across the North Country—including Fort Drum soldiers. The post near Watertown recently announced it would ban soldiers from spending money at any businesses that sell synthetic pot. But it now seems that won’t be necessary.