Belfast Telegraph

Masked men make execution threat to Northern Ireland town's drug dealers

By Cate McCurry

Masked men have issued a chilling death threat to drug dealers in a Co Tyrone town.

At least six men with connections to Omagh are understood to have been named in the threatening message from an unknown paramilitary-style group.

The statement was issued to the Ulster Herald and contained an image of three men wearing balaclavas and military-style clothing.

They are pictured behind a table bearing a double barrelled shotgun, handgun and ammunition.

The group warned it would go to "extreme lengths" to prevent drug dealing, including "kneecapping" or "executing".

No paramilitary group has taken responsibility for the threat, but it is suspected to be linked to a dissident republican group operating in the area.

The newspaper also reported that six people with ties to the Omagh area have been visited by the PSNI this week and warned of an immediate threat against their lives.

It comes almost two weeks after the tragic death of Emma Doogan, who passed away from a suspected drug overdose in her flat in Omagh.

The 19-year-old was buried last week after her body was found on Saturday, August 19.

Her boyfriend was arrested and faces 10 charges, including possession of supplying Class A, B and C drugs.

In the statement, the men said: "We are an organisation taking action against all drug dealers.

"At this point we are not willing to disclose the organisation we are acting on behalf of, but we are taking it upon ourselves to put an end to the drug dealing within our community.

"The drugs that are in circulation are destroying young people's lives and are the ruination of our community.

"In order to stop this we are willing to go to extreme lengths such as integrations (sic), knee capping and executions if necessary."

Daniel McCrossan, an SDLP MLA for West Tyrone, condemned the threat. He said: "So many families and communities have endured pain and suffering caused by the scourge of drugs and drug dealers on our streets.

"That does not, however, give any self-appointed group or individual the authority to put on masks, stand intimidatingly with weapons and make threats against any member of this society.

"Although this group has remained unnamed, the general public can see through the scare tactic and pathetic attempts made to intimidate people.

"Those making threats, hiding behind masks or seeking publicity of their irrelevant agendas in local community newspapers need to realise the people of this island, North and South, voted against such violent acts in 1998.

"The justice system is in place to protect our people and put those perpetrators, dealing drugs, behind bars.

"It may not be perfect, but it's all we have and certainly will be much more effective than any self-appointed group on an ego trip looking to save the day by making things worse."

The threat was also criticised by Sinn Fein councillor Marty McColgan.

"I wish to restate my sympathy for the young girl who died and her family, but threats like this aren't the answer to serious drug problems," he said.

"There's no place in society for self-appointed vigilante gangs. Many of these gangs have been involved in extorting drug dealers and other forms of criminality.

"The criminal justice system is the only place for drug dealers and gangs.

"I would urge anyone with information to bring it forward."

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