Leading loyalist Darren Moore has been told he is a 'dead man walking' after having a £10,000 bounty placed on his head.
Criminals working with disgruntled UVF members have put the hit out on the 50-year-old, who is currently before the courts on a blackmail charge which he denies.
Fearing for his safety, a paranoid Moore has stopped drinking in his usual Newtownabbey haunts, and is moving between properties in the loyalist New Mossley estate and Mallusk village.
"All of Darren Moore's friends are abandoning him like rats deserting a sinking ship," said a criminal source.
"Word has gone around that there is a £10,000 hit on him. The few people who were friends with Moore are nowhere to be seen."
Only one pal has stayed loyal to Moore, a drug dealer from the Lowwood area off Belfast's Shore Road, who ferries him around in his car.
Prominent loyalist Gary 'Jock' Mackenzie (48), who has strong ties to ex-north Belfast UDA leader Andre Shoukri, is facing charges of assaulting the former Irish League footballer. It must be stressed that neither Mackenzie or the businessman who was the victim of Moore's alleged blackmail has put up the £10,000 bounty.
Informed sources say the cash was cobbled together by UVF members and criminals who Moore has fallen out with over money.
"They have made it very clear that they want him dead," added our source.
Moore has been the victim of two vicious assaults in the past seven years which have left him in hospital with multiple broken bones.
In March 2017, he was attacked by a 10-man loyalist gang while drinking in McConnell's pub in Doagh, Newtownabbey. Four men were jailed for carrying out the baseball bat and hammer beating that left Moore in hospital for weeks.
Prior to this, he was almost crippled in a 2013 UVF punishment attack that resulted in him needing emergency surgery and steel rods inserted in his arms and legs.
Moore was abducted and battered with golf clubs and sewer rods before being dumped outside a Newtownabbey primary school.
His problems with the UVF have resurfaced in recent weeks through his claims to have the protection of Jackie Anderson - one of the terror gang's Shankill Road leaders.
Convicted bomber Anderson is UVF 'provost marshal', who is in charge of discipline, and was furious to discover Moore was falsely claiming that he had his back.