Last week, the
Sunday World revealed the South East Antrim (SEA) terror boss whisked his top team to Central America for a week-long jolly paid for by the "firm."
It had been thought he organised the jaunt as a reward for their loyalty – but it has since emerged the trip was a summit meeting on the future direction and leadership of the organisation.
Sources in the SEA powerbase in the Rathcoole estate in north Belfast have told the
Sunday World the trip was the brainchild of a number of long-standing members who have effectively taken over the running of the organised crime gang.
“There are things to talk about,” said our source, “but they weren’t going to do it here, it had to be taken away.”
He said it was suggested to Fisher that the summit be moved from their home patch in an attempt to prevent any leaks.
“It’s not Gary’s style to take the lads away like that,” he said.
“He’s not flash, he’s a wealthy man but he doesn’t show it and a booze and drugs party in Mexico is just so not him, he has been asked to do it and they have told him to pay for it out of ‘company’ funds.”
Boys’ away days were common in the days of flash terror chiefs like Jim Gray in east Belfast and former North Belfast Brigadier Andre Shoukri, who regularly took their trusted lieutenants on junkets to the likes of Thailand and Amsterdam.
It’s not clear who joined him on the jolly but it will have been reserved for close associates and commanders.
While drugs and booze will have flowed, it is understood there was serious business to discuss. Fisher is known to be keen to get out of the organised crime business with the Paramilitary Crime Task Force continually targeting their drugs operation.
Cops seized a quantity of drugs linked to SEA this week which comes on the heels of a series of successful raids.
Also the recent jailing of trusted drugs boss William McTaggart placed a question mark over their drug supply lines. McTaggart was handed a five-year sentence for drug offences before Christmas.
“Gary’s not like others who drink and take loads of drugs – don’t get me wrong, Gary has had his fair share, but not on the level of these guys, Mexico will have been the last place he wanted to be.”
The Sunday World understands on the agenda was the prospect of opening up new drug supply routes.
“This was about reorganising the business,” said our source, “with McTaggart in jail they’ll be looking for other opportunities and that’s not something you talk about here.”
As revealed last week, the seven-day bender and summit meeting ruffled feathers back home.
Those lucky enough to be invited to party in Cancun were barred from any social media activity while poolside at their luxury hotel and they were instructed that no pictures were to be taken or shared with anyone, even close family.
Fisher is obsessive about his privacy and paranoid about details of his movements being made public – he is known as The Ghost so low is his profile.
It is understood the away-day boys touched down back home last weekend, swapping the sun-drenched beaches of Mexico for the freezing windswept streets of Carrick and Rathcoole.
The transatlantic jolly has hit a bum note with SEA members left shivering in the winter weather.
The trip coincided with the anniversary of the murder in February 2003 of former SEA chief John ‘Grug’ Gregg.
The revered terror chief’s death has traditionally been marked with a gathering his unit’s men in the Rathcoole estate. This year the organisation’s leadership were sipping pina coladas on sun loungers 8,000 miles away.
One veteran who was close to Gregg said members were disgusted.
“This will not go well for Gary,” he said, “Gregg was so well respected, many of the older men remain deeply loyal to him and his memory, in their eyes this was disrespect.”
UDA members gathered two weeks ago to remember Gregg.
“Every year we gather, it is an order, you have no choice,” said our source.
“In past years we had to turn up in suits, there would be a show of strength and then the boys would have a few beers, it was our way of showing respect and that’s the way the UDA do it, not going on some narco package holiday to Mexico.”
Former brigadier John Gregg was shot dead as he returned to Belfast from a Rangers match in Glasgow. He was shot as he was driven off the ferry in Belfast’s docks.
He was the victim of a personal vendetta with the killers coming from Johnny Adair’s notorious UFF C Company based in the lower Shankill.