Gangs pay­ing drug ad­dicts in heroin to carry out mug­gings

Rus­sian thugs plan­ning spree

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY JILLY BEAT­TIE

FOR­EIGN gang bosses are of­fer­ing home­less drug ad­dicts heroin hits if they mug mem­bers of the public, the Mir­ror can re­veal.

The thugs, work­ing the sting in Belfast in the run up to Christ­mas, are be­lieved to be prey­ing on some of the coun­try’s most vul­ner­a­ble to make a profit.

But a se­cu­rity ex­pert claims the de­vel­op­ing is­sue is likely to be part of a larger gang cul­ture where ad­dicted re­cruits are tested for more se­ri­ous crimes fur­ther down the line.

One re­cov­er­ing ad­dict, who works on the ground in the city, said: “Word is out the Rus­sians are in town and they’re pay­ing in heroin, one hit at a time.

“They’re look­ing for stooges to do their dirty work. Who bet­ter than some­one who thinks they’ve noth­ing to lose?

“Some will fall vic­tim to it, oth­ers won’t. Eastern Euro­peans liv­ing and work­ing in North­ern Ire­land are de­cent peo­ple like our­selves, but ev­ery com­mu­nity has its bru­tal bully boys. Peo­ple need to un­der­stand the depths any­one can go to in the grip of ad­dic­tion.

“Drug ad­dicts have been used for years by gangs but now there are in­creas­ing num­bers of gangs in North­ern Ire­land, the home-spun paramil­i­taries, the Tri­ads and now Rus­sian, Lat­vian and Lithua­nian gangs, many of them for­mer sol­diers.”

The PSNI said there has not been a re­cent spike in re­ported street rob­beries in Belfast.

But one source re­vealed: “These peo­ple have been re­cruit­ing and Botanic Gar­dens has been a re­cent area of in­ter­est to them.

“But the na­ture of their ac­tiv­ity means they move about. They can’t stay in one spot too long or they will just be closed down – and they’re not stupid.

“There are gang­sters from many places across th e world work­ing in North­ern Ire­land but the Rus­sians are viewed as some of the most bru­tal.

“And they’re pre­pared to use oth­ers to do their dirty work so they can walk away clean.

“It’s a very risky busi­ness but the prom­ise of a drug hit makes it ap­pear worth­while for some ad­dicts. These gang­mas­ters are in­volved in per­pet­u­at­ing a se­ries of crimes which all feed off each other and they are the only win­ner.”

Kevin Bai­ley, di­rec­tor of home­less­ness ser­vices at the Si­mon Com­mu­nity North­ern Ire­land, said: “Peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness are amongst the most vul­ner­a­ble in our so­ci­ety and if they are be­ing tar­geted or used to fa­cil­i­tate any sort of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, it i is of se­ri­ous con­cern.

“Si­mon Com­mu­nity is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing any­one at risk of, or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

“We would ap­peal to any­one who needs sup­port to con­tact our 24 hour helpline on 0800 171 2222.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Po­lice have not re­ceived any re­ports of this na­ture.

“There has nei­ther been a spike in re­ported street r rob­beries, nor any in­ci­dents sim­i­lar to those de­scribed.”

BELFAST YES­TER­DAY

SOLEMN Fu­neral in Gle­navy, Co Antrim, yes­ter­day LOVED Matthew Bradley

CON­CERN Botanic Gar­dens

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