Lurgan gang 'The Firm' behind Malcolm McKeown murder and Colin Duffy gun attack
The gang that murdered crime boss Malcolm McKeown also carried out a gun attack on the home of prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy.
Police sources have confirmed the role of members of 'The Firm' in both gangland shootings, telling Sunday Life it is now the biggest organised crime outfit in north Armagh.
Detectives estimate that it has more than 50 members, with its power-base located in Lurgan's Mourneview estate. This is where the blue Volkswagen Passat getaway car used in the August murder of McKeown (54) was found burning.
The Firm, which has established links with Mid-Ulster drugs lord Drew King (50), is led by two criminals aged in their early 30s and late 20s, neither of whom can be named for legal reasons.
One is currently in prison on remand facing drug dealing charges, while the other, a talented boxer, has a conviction for a serious assault.
The latter, according to PSNI insiders, made sure he had an alibi by being recorded on CCTV when McKeown was shot dead - a killing he ordered.
The Firm is now understood to control significant drugs turf in Lurgan, Portadown, Craigavon, Waringstown and parts of Lisburn.
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Dealers connected to the gang are supplied with cocaine and cannabis and also have to pay a protection levy.
This is what led to The Firm's feud with Malcolm McKeown, who was gunned down for trying to extort cash from the same criminals.
A security source said: "The Firm has a dozen hardcore members, with around 50 associates stretching throughout north Armagh and Co Down.
"Its drugs are sourced mainly from Drew King, and it has bought handguns from criminals in Dublin. The weapons used to murder Malcolm McKeown were among this batch.
"The older members of The Firm would have historic links to the LVF, while others are the grown-up children of prominent LVF members."
Among these "grown-up children" is the son of a notorious LVF killer from Lurgan who clashed with Malcolm McKeown in the weeks before his death. He cannot be named because he is facing trial on serious criminal charges.
Security sources have also accused The Firm of involvement in a gun attack on the home of prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy.
At least two bullets were fired through the front window of the Lurgan property in April.
Duffy, who is currently on bail on a directing New IRA terrorism charge, was not injured in the incident.
Police believe the shooting was connected to an incident earlier this year involving the 51-year-old's son Seanna (19) who tragically died in a car crash in July.
Shortly after the gun attack at the Duffy home, a member of The Firm was pictured on social media posing with a shotgun in the republican Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan.
Police are in possession of the image which was recovered from a mobile phone belonging to a criminal arrested in connection with the murder of Malcolm McKeown.
A PSNI insider added: "It would be wrong to think of The Firm as a loyalist gang, it has members who are Catholics and from nationalist areas of north Armagh.
"So long as someone can make money through drug dealing they will be welcome in The Firm."