Belfast Telegraph

'Divis Hoods': A long-standing problem that shows no sign of going away

By Chris Kilpatrick

They evoke fear and fury in equal measure.

The so-called Divis Hoods Liberation Army has terrorised residents across Belfast in recent years, stealing and burning out cars and carrying out a spate of vehicle hijackings.

Based in the lower Falls area of the city, the gang has been accused of terrorising the local community through a wide range of criminal activities including drugs, anti-social behaviour, petty crime and assaults.

The gang gained notoriety around the time that 51-year-old Frank 'Bap' McCreevy was beaten to death at his Ross Street home in west Belfast home in March 2008.

Riot police had to be deployed to the area on a nightly basis because the DHLA had made the lower Falls a 'no-go' area after dark.

Gang members film each other joyriding and post the videos on YouTube, without fear of being caught.

It is believed they turned their attentions to hijackings two years ago and have been unafraid to strike in daylight.

A series of carjackings in and around the city centre in January of 2012 sparked fear, particularly among female motorists who were often targeted.

The police's response to the upsurge in carjackings was Operation Rusico, involving between 40 and 60 officers from the autocrime unit and the PSNI helicopter.

Outrage was sparked last January when it emerged that hundreds of people had attended an illegal street race in the area on New Year's Eve.

And in June new videos emerged online showing stolen cars being driven on residential streets in west Belfast.

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