collision course  | 

Terror bosses warn warring drugs chiefs heroin is a no-no in cash-rich market

Rival factions are fighting for control of the market after the attempted murder of Dean Rice

Dean Rice was shot in Westland Way earlier this month

Richard Sullivan

Warring drug gangs are on a collision course with West Belfast UDA.

Rival factions in the north of the city headed up by former brigadier Andre Shoukri and Alan McClean jnr, have gone head to head in the wake of the attempted murder of Dean Rice earlier this month.

At stake is control of the lucrative drug market in north Belfast.

The drug gang clash has seen the re-emergence of one-time terror chief Shoukri - dubbed the Bookies Brigadier because of his fondness of gambling - and former LVF chief Laurence 'Duffer' Kincaid.

Andre Shoukri

The UDA leadership on the Shankill has been monitoring the drug gang clash and are understood to have warned both factions they will not tolerate a turf war.

And they have also warned Shoukri and Kincaid they will not tolerate them dealing heroin on the streets of Belfast.

Despite the warnings, the Sunday World understands the west Belfast leadership will row in behind old boy Shoukri if the feud spirals further.

Ironically their warning come as Class A drugs worth an estimated £48,000, thousands of cigarettes and counterfeit items were seized during an operation in the Shankill area linked to the west Belfast UDA.

Officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) seized the items as part of an investigation into suspected drugs criminality.

It follows "proactive searches" at three locations in the Shankill area.

Police seize £48k worth of drugs and counterfeit items during Shankill searches linked to UDA

Detective Inspector Corrigan said: "We also recovered an estimated 10,000 cigarettes, as well as a quantity of cash and a number of suspected counterfeit items, including football shirts.

"The searches and seizures are a demonstration of the PCTF's commitment to tackle all types of organised criminality linked to paramilitaries, in an ongoing effort to rid our communities of the harm these groups cause and of their coercive control.

"Our inquiries are ongoing and we would like to thank the local community for their continued support and will continue to act on the information you provide us."

The seizure included counterfeit Rangers and Liverpool replica tops.

Police seize £48k worth of drugs and counterfeit items during Shankill searches linked to UDA

But according to sources, the organisation under the leadership of West Belfast Brigadier Matt Kincaid is taking the moral high ground when it comes to "dirty drug" heroin.

"They're watching what's happening in north Belfast and they will stay out of it unless it starts affecting their business," a well-placed source told us.

"But they have made it clear that heroin is a no no. You might call it hypocritical considering they deal in everything else including crack cocaine, but they won't tolerate heroin."

West Belfast UDA is one of the most prolific drug gangs in Northern Ireland. C Company commander Mo Courtney has an iron grip on the drugs trade in the lower Shankill while alleged Woodvale commander Jim Spence has overseen an expansion of the organisation's drug operations.

Mo Courtney

Kincaid has previously denied "involvement in criminal activity of any kind" and has said he has never been a member "of any proscribed organisation".

Spence, who denies UDA membership and involvement in criminality, has pushed the boundaries of the gangs' drug dealings, expanding into north Belfast and north Down.

They are reluctant to be drawn into a turf war and will remain on the sidelines as long as they are not directly affected.

As previously revealed by the Sunday World, tensions between Shoukri and 'Duffer' Kincaid's mob continue to rise.

Shoukri, who is believed to have sanctioned the murder bid on Rice, is attempting to buy guns through criminal contacts in Dublin and Scotland.

One-time close associate Alan McClean jnr has vowed revenge for the attack on his close friend.

Rice was shot in the back after being lured to a meeting in the Westlands area of the city, caught up in the crossfire in what has become a bitter drug turf war between the two men who were formally friends.

Both have accused each other of muscling in on each other's patch and becoming involved in the supply of heroin.

McClean Jnr has the backing of drug supplier 'Duffer' Kincaid, one of Northern Ireland's biggest criminals, making him an even bigger force to be reckoned with.

'Duffer' Kincaid was one the leaders of the LVF in north Belfast and maintains to have in his possession a small but deadly arsenal of weapons he has made available to McClean.

In response, ex-UDA boss Shoukri has reached out to criminal underworld seeking to buy guns.

McClean, with the backing of Kincaid, has set his sights on taking control of the drugs trade in the Westlands estate.

A source has claimed Spence and West Belfast UDA are believed to be content with that as long as he sticks to his patch and doesn't interfere with his operations, however should it escalate or spiral out of control he has indicated he will back Shoukri.

Meanwhile, Rice remains in a serious condition in hospital coming to terms with what have been described as "life-changing injuries" after he was shot in the back.

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