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Hunt for jeep Drugs gang suspected for burning car on trainline that could have caused multiple deaths

Police are probing if a blazing car, pushed onto a Co Derry railway line in April, was carried out by gangsters who sneaked a huge haul of Class A drugs into the area

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'It is unimaginable to think what could have happened this evening had it not been for the prompt action of the driver and crew'

'It is unimaginable to think what could have happened this evening had it not been for the prompt action of the driver and crew'

'It is unimaginable to think what could have happened this evening had it not been for the prompt action of the driver and crew'

A drugs gang is suspected of being behind a terrifying attack on one of Ulster’s main trainlines that could have resulted in multiple deaths.

The Sunday World understands that police are probing if a blazing car, pushed onto a Co Derry railway line in April, was carried out by gangsters who sneaked a huge haul of Class A drugs into the area.

Sources have told this newspaper that the dangerous act, which forced a passenger train on the Derry-Coleraine line to an emergency halt, was orchestrated to revert police resources from a nearby town where the haul was being brought in.

The incident, which took place at a level crossing in Magilligan on April 12, was described as a “reckless endangerment to life” by senior police officers who are now believed to have narrowed down the gang responsible.

One of the leading members of the Limavady based narco gang is a well-known drug dealer who has been accused of “flooding the town with poison” for years.

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The blaze on the line in Magilligan

The blaze on the line in Magilligan

The blaze on the line in Magilligan

He is also said to have some links to loyalist paramilitaries involved in raising tensions in the Co Derry area in the run up to the Twelfth celebrations this year.

The middle-aged criminal has recently upped his cocaine business after coming into some cash and the Class A haul was ordered to build on his poison peddling empire.

“He was so scared of losing any money on this big drugs deal he made sure that no police eyes were on him,” a source said.

“So, the night it was being brought in, him and his cronies came up with a plan of driving a scrap car to Magilligan, push it onto the tracks and set it alight.

“It was well-timed, he had worked out timings and new a train was due to cross so that meant mass resources being sent to the area.

“There’s not much of a police presence in Magilligan, it’s a quiet area where there is never any hassle. Police and emergency crews would have been deployed from Limavady which meant less officers on the ground where his drugs were coming in.

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“He’s certainly no criminal mastermind but it worked and he’s laughing all the way to the bank now.

“It’s absolutely sick to be honest; people could have been killed. He could have done this at any time of the day, when there’s a bit of a break between trains but he chose to do it within minutes of the Coleraine train coming in.

“What if the driver wasn’t able to stop in time? It could have resulted in mass casualties. Fortunately, everyone was OK but no thanks to him. He’s out of control and needs locked up.”

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The Range Rover Evoque

The Range Rover Evoque

The Range Rover Evoque

Around six passengers were on the Derry to Coleraine service at the time of the incident, which Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said only averted disaster through the quick actions of the driver.

“The train travelling from Belfast to Derry was brought thankfully to a stop by the train driver who acted quickly before the train reached the burning car on the track,” Minister Mallon said at the time.

“I am so relieved to hear that passengers and crew are all safe. It is unimaginable to think what could have happened this evening had it not been for the prompt action of the driver and crew. I want express my gratitude to them and to the emergency services.”

In a renewed appeal for information over the attack last month, police released an image of a vehicle seen in the area at the time.

PSNI Detective Inspector Peter McKenna said he believed the driver could assist police with their enquiries.

“This reckless act caused an approaching train to make an emergency stop. The swift actions of the driver certainly avoided death and serious injury, for those on board the train.

“As part of our investigation, we are appealing for information in relation to a vehicle we believe can assist with our enquiries.

“Today, we are releasing CCTV footage and are particularly keen to speak with the driver of a white coloured Range Rover Evoque that was seen in the area of Limestone Road at the time of the incident,” the Detective Inspector said.

“The traumatic events in April have left a lasting impact on not only those on the train, but those within the local community.

“There has been widespread outrage regarding this mindless incident, and we thank everyone for their assistance and cooperation so far with our investigation.

“This renewed appeal for information, in which we are trying to trace the movements of this vehicle, is of vital importance to help bring those responsible to justice.

“The independent charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of up to £3,000 to anyone providing information directly and anonymously to Crimestoppers which leads to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons linked to this incident.

“We are very grateful for their cooperation as part of this investigation.

“If anyone saw this white Range Rover Evoque in the Limestone Road or surrounding area at the time of the incident, we would ask them to contact detectives on 101, quoting reference number 1945 12/04/21.

If anyone has dash-cam footage taken between 8pm and 9:30pm on Monday 12th April when travelling along the Limestone Road, this would also be extremely helpful for our enquiries.

“Alternatively, to stay anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111 or complete their simple and secure anonymous online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.”

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