October 23rd, 2014

INLA in drugs cash showdown

Northern IrelandBy Richard Sullivan
Roy McAuley
Roy McAuley

North Belfast is on the brink of a vigilante turf war as republican splinter group the INLA put the squeeze on drug dealers.

Known dealers in the New Lodge area of the city are facing huge cash demands after coming under pressure from the dissident organisation.

The Sunday World understands that significant payments have already been made, with dealers being told ‘pay up or else.’ 

At least two people have been given an ultimatum that unless they hand over the money they will be forced out of the area.

One man is facing demands for £17,000 while at least one other has paid out £11,000 to the his paramiltary tormentors.

The move is being seen as a direct challenge to bogus ant-drug vigilante Roy McAuley, head of shadowy criminal gang Action Against Drugs.

As previously revealed by the Sunday World AAD is nothing more than a grubby money grabbing operation scamming thousands of pounds from drug dealers who are told they must pay a ‘licence fee’ in return for them being allowed to continue dealing.

Under pain of death dealers are forced to hand over a slice of their profits – now the INLA has to in on the act.

The latest move sets the rival groups on direct collision course.

Sources in north Belfast have told us the INLA is anxious to assert its authority and need to be seen to respond to AAD. 

Other dissident groups such as Oglaigh na hEireann are largely ineffectual with the INLA likely to be the only organisation capable of taking on McAuley.

AAD is believed to be made up of disgruntled dissident republicans and now McAuley is spreading his ‘operation’ to west Belfast where he has been actively recruiting, targeting disgruntled OnH figures in particular.

McAuley himself is a murder suspect, arrested an questioned in relation to the murder of low level drugs dealer Danny McKay in Newtownabbey 18 months ago.

His activities have already brought him into conflict with the INLA who retaliated to a pipe bomb attack on one of their members by abducting a senior AAD figure and holding him for a number of days.

Sources have told us the situation in the New Lodge has the potential to explode into a fully fledged turf war.

“McAuley has put it up to them,” said our source, “he was quick off the mark and now he is ahead of them, his operation is up and running and he’s making money.”

He said the INLA will be aggressive in their response.

“There’s a lot of money at stake,control of the drug market means a lot of cash, a guaranteed money making machine.”

Republican sources have told us the OnH now regard McAuley as the biggest threat to them, they have already lost members to AAD and they have been left severely depleted with disgruntled members turning their backs on the organisation because of ineffective leadership.

The Sunday World understands AAD is already compiling a dossier of the most prolific dealers in the west.

“They will be targeted, it’s all about easy money.”

McAuley claimed his group was dedicated to eradicating the drug problem in north Belfast. In truth his only intention was to control the dealers and has already set up a lucrative network of people involved in the trade who supply him with information on rival dealers.

He has surrounded himself with crooks with a long history of dealing in counterfeit goods, and robbery.

“All these groups (AAD, OnH, INLA) are competing with each other and will go to any lengths to stay one step ahead of the competition. It’s all about making money and nothing to do with any republican ethos.”

Crime levels in the New Lodge district have been steadily increasing in recent months. A public meeting held this week to discuss the issue was disrupted by a gang of teenagers.

Residents say they are fed up with months of rising criminality, anyone standing up to the drug dealers, joyriders and house breakers risk having their homes attacked. 

A second public meeting has been arranged for tomorrow evening which will be attended by the PSNI and representatives of other statutory agencies.