Fears of reprisal as border drug lord ‘Chocolate’ knocked unconscious in drink spike row

Sources in the city say the customer, who is a respected and law-abiding citizen, believes the notorious drug dealer interfered with his drink

A picture of Chocolate’s battered face

Richard SullivanSunday World

Border drug lord ‘The ‘Chocolate’’ was left in a bloodied heap after being accused of spiking a bar customer’s drink.

The Newry-born gangster was in a bar in the border city on Thursday night last week when he became embroiled in a row with another customer.

The Sunday World understands he accused ‘‘Chocolate’’ of spiking his drink on a previous occasion.

Sources in the city say the customer, who is a respected and law-abiding citizen, believes the notorious drug dealer interfered with his drink.

He said on the night in question his behaviour totally changed and was totally out of character. He is convinced it was the result of involuntarily taking a drug.

It prompted a huge row and ended in a bloody fight.

Sources say neither man emerged unscathed but it was ‘Chocolate’ who came off worst, despite throwing the first punch.

The 49-year-old, who lives in south Armagh, was knocked unconscious and such were his injuries he required hospital treatment, as did his opponent.

A picture was circulated on social media showing the gangster’s battered and bloodied face with suggestion he may have suffered a fractured skull.

He was widely mocked, with a number of people poking fun at his injuries.

The photograph – showing a large lump on his temple – reveals the extent of the injuries the self-proclaimed tough guy sustained during the attack, which took place in full view of other customers and staff in a popular local bar.

The Sunday World understands the men later found themselves in adjoining cubicles in the hospital and at one stage the bar customer pulled a drip from his arm with the intention of attacking ‘Chocolate’ again “to finish the job”.

His intentions were foiled by the presence of two police officers who were in the department for a different reason.

‘Chocolate’ is no stranger to violence. He has a reputation for brawling and is not slow in raising his fists.

He is understood to have been involved in a street fight before Christmas and he has a long history of bar-room brawling.

There are now fears of reprisals once ‘Chocolate’ recovers from his injuries.

Over the years he has clashed with rival drug gangs – at one stage his home was targeted by dissidents – but he has remained one the border city’s most significant drug dealers.

However, he is currently facing drug charges after he was detained as part of a Europe-wide investigation called Operation Venetic in which criminals using encrypted mobile devices to import and export drugs were targeted.

Commonly referred to as EncroChat, criminals have used encrypted mobile devices to adopt and hide behind code names.

Around 60,000 users of EncroChat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the UK – all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering and other criminal activity.

A number of people in Northern Ireland have been arrested and charged, with a small number of cases already having passed through the courts.

The ‘Chocolate’ will be one of the highest-profile mobsters to be taken down – if convicted.But until his trial it has been business as usual for one of the most prolific drug dealers in the North.

Last August he was involved in an altercation which resulted in the temporary closure of a bar in the border city. There was a confrontation after members of staff at a Newry bar raised concerns over ‘Chocolate’s’ mob using it for drug deals.

It is understood a complaint was made to the bar manager who confronted an individual who is a known associate of ‘Chocolate’.

It resulted in the arch criminal being called and his arrival at the bar. It’s not the first time ‘Chocolate’ has been involved in a bar-room confrontation.

A number of years ago a member of staff at another Newry bar was on the wrong end of beating at the hands of the crime boss after he tried to have him barred because of drug dealing on the premises.

The notorious mobster has a reputation for extreme violence and has been known to inflict brutal beatings, on one occasion dragging a driver who worked for Sinn Féin into the street and giving him a hammering.

The Sunday World first uncovered ‘Chocolate’s’ activities when he muscled in on the border city’s lucrative drug trade, pushing aside Barney ‘King Coke’ Morgan.

Morgan, who also does not have criminal convictions, controlled Newry’s drug trade for years until the arrival of ‘Chocolate’.

It was ‘Chocolate’ who brought heroin to the streets of the border city after going into partnership with an eastern European organised crime gang.

Despite residents’ objections, ‘Chocolate’ has continued to flood the area with the deadly drug.

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