Montauk bartenders among 16 charged in drug ring

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MONTAUK -

More than a dozen Montauk bartenders and restaurant workers allegedly dealt narcotics to tourists in some of the summer getaway's popular night spots, police say.

According to investigators, 16 suspects specialized in cocaine and oxycodone in a profitable summer drug ring.

"We all know that the population of the East End, particularly Montauk, increases dramatically during the summer months," says Suffolk District Attorney Tim Sini. 

According to Sini, the dealers had drugs shipped to them through the mail. 

The accused dealers are seasonal workers in five popular Montauk bars and restaurants: the Liar's Saloon, O'Murphy's Pub, and Swallow East on West Lake Drive, as well as Shagwong Tavern and the Gig Shack on Montauk Highway.

Sini says they would use the restaurants and bars to drum up their own business and meet new customers — then use kitchen back doors to sell drugs.

And he says the restaurants themselves may have helped.

"What is clear is that there's a culture of complacency among the commercial establishments in this area," Sini says. "There was an infrastructure put in place by these restaurants to facilitate this criminal activity, and that will certainly be part of this investigation going forward."

Jason Behan, a Shagwong co-owner, says the DA has it wrong.

"None of my employees were involved," he says. "I'm kind of shocked that they haven't come to a restaurant owner to ask them what's going on."

He says he doesn't know where investigators are getting their information from.

"I know more than anybody else what goes on under my roof," Behan says.

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