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reid 'em and keep UVF enforcer James Reid stood down after he's caught nabbing £25k in drug cash

The organised crime gang oversees a highly lucrative drug empire raking in tens of thousands of pounds each week.

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Busted James Reid's fate mirrors that of David ‘Dee’ McConnell, who was stood down by the UVF

Busted James Reid's fate mirrors that of David ‘Dee’ McConnell, who was stood down by the UVF

Busted James Reid's fate mirrors that of David ‘Dee’ McConnell, who was stood down by the UVF

UVF enforcer James Reid has been busted by his own organisation for pocketing drug money.

The gangland muscleman fell foul of the terror group's east Belfast leadership after he was allegedly found with his hands in the till.

The Sunday World understands Reid was under orders to collect a sizeable chunk of cash - believed to upwards of £50,000 - from a drug dealer.

But alarm bells were ringing when the Ballybeen mobster turned in only £25,000, insisting that was all the dealer handed over.

The organised crime gang oversees a highly lucrative drug empire raking in tens of thousands of pounds each week. They also tax dealers who are not UVF members, who hand over a slice of the profits in return for being allowed to deal on their patch.

When the dealer was challenged he insisted he had paid up in full.

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James Reid who has had a dramatic fall from grace

James Reid who has had a dramatic fall from grace

James Reid who has had a dramatic fall from grace

It set the leadership on collision course with their once-trusted commander. Convicted armed robber Reid is the UVF's top man in the Ballybeen estate and was a favourite of the leadership.

He has a reputation for violence and has been linked to a series of beatings dished out in the estate over the years.

It is understood he failed to turn up when summoned to a meeting and was stood down as commander in his absence.

It is a dramatic fall from grace for the mobster.

An arson attack on a property in Ballybeen last weekend is suspected of being linked to the Reid situation.

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A man was forced to jump out of an upstairs window during the incident in the early hours of Sunday morning. There is nothing to suggest the man was Reid but the convicted armed robber is believed to have been the intended target.

Detectives are appealing for information and witnesses after they received a report of a fire in the doorway of a property in the Cragnish Crescent area at around 2am last Sunday.

The victim was able to escape the property and the PSNI is currently treating the incident as "deliberate ignition".

Detective Sergeant Cargin said: "It was reported to police at around 1.45am that there was a fire in the doorway of a flat in the Cragnish Crescent area.

"The victim was upstairs in his property when he heard a large thud and looked down to see fire and black smoke coming up the stairs.

"The victim was unable to get down the stairs to exit the property and had to escape through an upstairs window at the back of the property.

"Officers attended along with colleagues from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service who extinguished the fire.

"Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident but at this stage, the fire is being treated as deliberate ignition.

"We would appeal to anyone who might have information which may assist the investigation to contact police on 101 quoting reference 219 05/09/21."

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David McConnell

David McConnell

David McConnell

It is understood to have been the second time he has been targeted in recent weeks. A car belonging to his partner was deliberately damaged in an overnight attack when it was parked outside a house in the estate.

Reid's fate mirrors that of another former east Belfast commander.

David 'Dee' McConnell was stood down a couple of years ago after he was found to be running unsanctioned drug rackets, pocketing the cash.

Despite his close relationship with the leadership he was stood down, but was allowed to remain a member.

He now spends much of his time in Scotland where he has a child but remains close to those at the top of the organisation.

Reid, who was convicted in May of a cowardly assault on a 15-year-old, may not be so lucky.

Sources have told us he cannot rely on the same level of support. He has made too many enemies with his 'roughhouse' approach.

He is believed to have been a malign influence in a simmering feud which has been bubbling between two rival factions in Ballybeen over the last couple of years.

The teenager he assaulted as he rode his bike home is thought to have been an innocent victim of the feud.

Thug Reid is widely accepted to have been behind a cowardly attack on former Sunday World Editor Jim McDowell at Christmas 2009.

Mr McDowell was assaulted by a number of men, including Reid, as he made his way through the Christmas market outside Belfast City Hall.

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