'narco-king' | 

UVF declares war on UDA drug dealers on Belfast’s Shankill Road

Convicted killer Courtney is also believed to be on their list.

Richard SullivanSunday World

The UVF has declared war on UDA drug dealers on the Shankill Road.

Two drug dealers and close associates of UFF narco-king Mo Courtney were ordered out of the area on Thursday night and according to sources they have other in their sights.

Convicted killer Courtney is also believed to be on their list.

The Sunday World understands one of the dealers ordered out of the area dealt coke for Courtney’s lower Shankill drug gang.

He is a former UVF member who was put out of east Belfast a number of years ago after he was caught stealing money from the organisation.

He was subjected to a punishment attack in which his hands was smashed with hammers. He sought refuge on the Shankill and jumped ship to the UDA.

He curried favour by becoming a key member of killer Courtney’s C Company. A second man has also been exiled from the loyalist heartland in what is being seen as a significant increase in tensions between the rival terror groups.

UVF members on the Shankill have been told to be on ``standby’’ amid speculation that further expulsions are on the cards.

Insiders say the UVF has moved to take advantage of Courtney’s vulnerable position.

He is under immense pressure after he and his second in command took guns from an east Belfast mobster last month.

The weapons were being kept by convicted rapist Gerry Verner on behalf of a Dublin based organised crime gang.

Courtney and his sidekick convinced a man, described as ``vulnerable’’ to hand over the weapons in return for a quantity of coke.

He was subjected to a savage beating before naming Courtney as the man responsible.

He has since been keeping a low profile as the Dubliners warn they want their guns back. Courtney and his second in command have been warned their lives are in danger but the mobster has refused to give up the guns stating he took them from ``taigs.’’

The UDA leadership in the west of the city has since turned their back on him warning him he can no longer rely on them for protection.

Courtney is said to be furious.

Criminal sources have told us he is now fearful that he is vulnerable to attack.

The fact a car load of Dublin mobsters was cruising the Shankill in search of him has alarmed the terror group’s leadership.

It is understood UDA brigadier Matt Kincaid has sought to assure the southern gang that Courtney acted without their approval and that he was ``on his own.”

Similarly UVF chiefs have reacted with alarm at the presence of Dublin gangsters in the heart of the Shankill.

“For a long time members of the Brigade staff have been urging Bunter to clean up the Shankill,” a source told us.

“With Courtney under pressure it was the perfect opportunity.”

Veteran Chief of Staff John `Bunter’ Graham yielded to pressure from his men and gave the go ahead for the expulsions. With memories still fresh from the murderous UVF/UDA feud of 2000, he has been anxious to maintain relations with the rival group.

They turned a blind eye to Courtney’s drug empire on the lower Shankill as long as he didn’t stray onto their territory.

But with residents growing increasingly frustrated and angry at the amount of drug abuse in their community, Courtney’s time is up.

A man arrested in the lower Shankill this week after a quantity of drugs was found at a house in the area is believed to have been targeted on the basis of information supplied by a member of the public.

Social media was awash with messages mocking Courtney and warning drug dealers he can no longer protect them.

A number of people have been identified including Courtney’s sidekick.

One loyalist source said the UVF had no choice but to act such was the pressure from the community. With Courtney’s stranglehold now under treat and UDA chief Jim Spence, who has overseen the organisation’s drug rackets, stepping back from direct involvemet, the UDA/UFF has never been more vulnerable.

“What we do know is that these people can’t help themselves, they will continue dealing, but they are wide open,” one lower Shankill resident told us.

“They’ve had their way for far too long and have terrorised and damaged this community. Now we’ll just sit back and watch and see what happens.”

UDA West Belfast Brigadier Matt Kincaid and Woodvale Commander Jim Spence both deny membership of the paramilitary group and involvement in criminality.

Today's Headlines

More Northern Ireland

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos