Alleged UDA crime boss Jim Spence ‘refused to pay a £100,000 fine’ from terror bosses

He is one of a number of people who have been allegedly targeted as the UVF and UDA leadership unite to kick out the suspected drug dealers

Richard SullivanSunday World

Alleged UDA crime boss Jim Spence has refused to pay a £100,000 fine from his terror bosses, a source has claimed.

His refusal to cough up on the heft levy over his suspected involvement in the drugs trade has left the veteran paramilitary chief totally isolated, according to sources.

As previously revealed, he is one of a number of people who have been allegedly targeted as the UVF and UDA leadership unite to kick out the suspected drug dealers.

At least five people were singled out and ordered to pay up or get out, it is claimed.

The Sunday World understands a number of others have paid fines ranging from £5,000 to £10,000 and have been allowed to remain on the Shankill.

They are also under orders to quit dealing drugs.

One person, whose identity is known to the Sunday World, has been ordered off the road.

But now, a source has claimed Spence and one other close associate who oversaw Spence’s alleged drug dealing racket on the Shankill have refused to pay.

It is claimed they have now been warned they are in the last chance saloon and there will be further sanctions if they continue to refuse.

It is understood an incident occurred on the Shankill last week when a group of men, believed to be from the UVF, entered a bar and ordered drinkers to down their glasses and get out.

Sources say the incident is connected to the drug dealer purge.

Spence and his one-time sidekick are said to now find themselves totally isolated.

The alleged long-time Woodvale UDA commander has been a divisive figure but has managed to remain in place despite many attempts to have him removed.

Sources claimed he has survived a UDA court martial in the past but remained as Woodvale commander and built a lucrative drug dealing operation that spreads far beyond the Shankill Road.

The West Belfast UDA leadership resisted pressure to move against drug dealers but have now united with their UVF counterparts to force druggies out of the area.

The alliance comes amid growing concern at the influx of “rogue dealers’’ and alliances formed by Spence and others with republican and dissident-linked gangs.

The UVF moved against two UDA-linked dealers last month, ordering them out of the area, warning the rival terror group that they were prepared to move against others.

The move was sparked because of ongoing row involving veteran UFF drug dealer Mo Courtney.

He is currently under threat from a Dublin-based gang after he stole guns belonging to them.

The theft in east Belfast prompted the southern gang to issue a threat and one stage were cruising the Shankill looking for Courtney and his second in command.

They approached UDA commander “Dopey’’ Denis Cunningham as he was locking up the offices of the Lower Shankill Community Association. Now Cunningham is understood to be one of the driving forces behind the drug purge.

Should Spence be forced out of the Shankill he has few safe options, a source has claimed.

He is deeply disliked and distrusted across the organisation and would not be welcome in a host of areas, including south Belfast where Jackie McDonald was the main instigator of Spence’s alleged court martial.

Loyalist sources say the clean-up should not be regarded as a crusade against drug dealers but more about taking control of the trade and operating only their own dealers.

They also blame rogue dealers for bringing heroin on to the streets.

A spokesperson for Spence insisted the allegations were untrue.

“Mr Spence has not been subjected to any fine and is not in dispute with any person within the community.

“There is no truth to these allegations in any shape or form.”

He called on those making the allegations to substantiate their claims.

It has sparked speculation that similar purges may be launched in other loyalist areas.

The speculation coincides with another drug seizure in the east of the city linked to the UVF.

A man and a woman have been arrested and drugs were seized following an investigation into crime associated with the East Belfast UVF.

Officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force carried out two searches last Thursday and Friday, seizing quantities of suspected cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £6,000.

Paramilitary emblems, flags, badges, a baton and a number of mobile phones were also uncovered.

A 34-year-old man has since been charged with possession of class A and B controlled drugs and possession of class A and B controlled drugs with intent to supply. He is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on January 6.

A 45-year-old woman has been released on police bail to allow for further police inquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Kelly said: “This operation is part of our ongoing proactive investigation into the criminality of East Belfast UVF and demonstrates our commitment to listening to local communities and acting on what they tell us.

“I would encourage anyone with information about the supply or use of illegal drugs or any other criminal activity to contact police on 101 or submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makea report/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestop pers-uk.org/.”

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