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Sag Harbor man distributed heroin in mailboxes, cops say

Joseph Dowling, 24, of Sag Harbor, was arrested

Joseph Dowling, 24, of Sag Harbor, was arrested Friday, July 22, 2016, and charged with using neighborhood mailboxes to distribute heroin, police said. Credit: East Hampton Police Department

A Sag Harbor man was charged Saturday with using neighborhood mailboxes to distribute heroin, police said.

Joseph Dowling, 24, was arrested Friday about 2:50 p.m. in the driveway of a Lighthouse Lane home where he’d dropped off two individually wrapped bags of heroin — containing a total of about 2.6 grams of the addictive opiate — as part of a buy-and-bust operation orchestrated by East Hampton Town Police detectives, Det. Sgt. Greg Schaefer said Saturday.

“He would leave a quantity of heroin in one of the mailboxes in the vicinity of his residence,” Schaefer said of Dowling, who lives one street east with his family on Brandywine Drive. “He would utilize random mailboxes and drop the heroin and buyers would pick it up from there.”

The mailbox Dowling used Friday appeared to be a vacant residence, possibly a summer home, Schaefer said. Dowling, who had a hypodermic needle when he was arrested, has been selling the dope to year-round residents, Schaefer said.

Dowling was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a B-class felony; third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, a B-class felony; and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, an A-class misdemeanor, Schaefer said.

Dowling had been on police radar for years, according to Schaefer, and new information gleaned by police detectives led to the latest investigation.

Dowling was arraigned Saturday morning in Sag Harbor Justice Court, where his bail was set at $11,000, Schaefer said. He did not immediately make bail, Schaefer said. Attorney information for Dowling was not immediately known and attempts to reach his family were unsuccessful.

Schaefer said he and his fellow officers on the affluent East End have long battled the sale of opioids.

“It’s no different here,” Schaefer said of the well-heeled communities. “Heroin is cheap. Because of the pill epidemic, heroin is pretty much the drug of choice now.”

Police said anyone with information about Dowling or other drug sales in the area can call East Hampton Town Police detectives at 631-537-7575.

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