HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County officials said Thursday that they have taken down a large drug ring in the summer tourist hot spot of Montauk. And the culprits, they said, brazenly dealt right out of popular restaurants.
It’s known as “The End.” Montauk draws throngs of summer visitors. But officials said they’ve put an end to a drug operation run by seasonal employees of trendy restaurants, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“We know we have struck at the heart of the drug supply in Montauk. There are going to be a lot of people upset this weekend,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said.
The Suffolk DA, together with the Drug Enforcement Administration and postal inspectors, said mailed packages of Oxycodone were tracked and that led to the arrests of 15 seasonal workers at some of Montauk’s hottest destinations. Officials said the accused brazenly sold out of restaurant back doors, bathrooms and employee rooming houses.
“This investigation targeted an organization trafficking drugs through Montauk using local restaurants and bars to sell cocaine, Oxycodone and other drugs,” DEA group supervisor David Samilo said.
Sini named some of the popular hot spots, including: Swallow East, The Gig Shack, Shagwon, Liars Saloon and O’Murphy’s. Restaurant owners were not charged with any crime, but Sini suggested a culture of complacency in the guise of customer service, Gusoff reported.
“We are seriously concerned that at least some of the businesses knew exactly what was going on and there may be incentive to have allow this to go on,” Sini said. “If you can get a streak dinner and a glass of wine and a bag of coke, maybe you can attract more people than if you’re just handing out hot dogs and hamburgers.”
Community complaints prompted the investigation of a world class destination that the DA said dealers exploited for huge profits, charging inflated prices for illicit drugs.
There was no response form several restaurants but an attorney for Shagwon told CBS2 the management is indignant to be lumped into a culture of complacency, adding it is a legitimate business that has invested millions, not only in its East End businesses. It also asked what it could possibly have done to prevent this.
The 15 people charged are all low-level restaurant workers. No management or owners were charged.