SOUTH ARMAGH has allegedly been infiltrated by the notorious Kinahan drug cartel, after sources from the Garda Síochána told The Irish Sun this week that the gang had been using the area as a gateway for sending drugs into Britain.
Three known members of the crime syndicate have been spotted in two separate villages in the region, with reports that they have been quietly renting houses in order to carry out their nefarious activities.
Since the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, IRA decommissioning in 2005 and the prosecution of senior Republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy in 2016 by the Special Criminal Court, Republican influence in the area has dwindled significantly, leaving a power vacuum that drug gangs have been all too eager to fill.
At a local level this has had devastating consequences, with the border city of Newry now said to be ‘awash with both cocaine and heroin’ and at least three high-profile drug overdoses known to have taken place in the past number of years: Stephen Millington in 2017, Brendan ‘Barney’ Preece in 2018 and Aidan McCabe in 2019.
A Garda source told The Irish Sun:
“The Kinahans have decided to use South Armagh as the gateway to the UK.
“This is now a big problem for both ourselves and the Brits.
“The cartel is also using remote landing spots along the isolated west coast to bring coke from South America to Ireland.
“The UK is a massive market for them worth hundreds of millions.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum in Newry have long been raising concerns about the city’s burgeoning drug problem, and local residents are keen to have the issue raised at meetings with both the PSNI and Gardaí.
Following a significant drug seizure in August this year, Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Mickey Brady said:
“It is important for the community to maintain its zero tolerance to criminal gangs and it is essential for the PSNI to continue pursuing the drug dealers and those involved in their network.”