The town of Newry, Co Down, prepares for a turf war by drug gangs.
Tensions in the border town have been rising in recent months, culminating in the killing of suspected drug dealer Mark Lovell this week.
He was shot multiple times by a rival drug faction as he was about to get into his car at the Ardcarn estate on Thursday night.
His killing came weeks after he escaped with minor gunshot wounds when his home in Dundalk came under fire. His dog was killed in the incident in late October and he sustained injuries to his stomach.
Sources in Newry say the 58-year-old ignored repeated warnings to stay away from the city and paid the ultimate price.
Police have confirmed a line of inquiry focused on a cross-border feud between rival drug gangs.
Like many others involved in the border drug trade, Lovell divided his time between Newry and Dundalk.
A number of rival organized crime gangs are vying for control of the highly lucrative border drug trade.
The city has long been a hub for gangs on both sides of the border.
“A huge amount of drugs consumed in the North will pass through Newry, it’s a drug corridor,” a criminal source told us. “And a lot of that doesn’t get past Newry, it makes for a very competitive market.”
He said a number of South-based outfits competed with local gangs, including those led by veterans “Coke King” and “The Chocolate.”
Dissident gangs are also on the market, as are a number of foreign organized crime gangs, including a mob led by two Middle Eastern brothers.
“There is a feud going on and the fear is that this will open the floodgates.”
The source said the shooting was most likely carried out by a Dundalk-based gang. He said the ruthless nature of the shooting was the hallmark of Southern outfits.
Lovell has longstanding ties to veteran drug dealer Barney Morgan and is said to have been involved in drug dealing for some time.
This week, PSNI District Commander Norman Haslett described the Lovell shooting as a “brutal and senseless” attack on a defenseless man.
“We believe that those responsible went to great lengths to plan this attack, that they waited for their victim to come home and essentially ambushed and executed him,” he added.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/the-border-town-braced-for-a-drug-war-following-murder-of-suspected-drug-dealer-42195394.html The border town braced itself for a drug war after the murder of a suspected drug dealer