A MAN who had a boat seized as part of a police investigation into South East Antrim UDA drug dealing has angrily denied any link to paramilitaries.
Jonny Smyth was stopped by cops flying to Turkey for dental treatment from Belfast International Airport.
Despite a small quantity of cannabis being found in his possession, he was released without charge and still able to catch his plane.
While Smyth was in the air last Wednesday, officers from the Paramilitary Crime Taskforce searched his home in the Prospect area of Carrickfergus.
They also seized a small boat that he uses for deep sea fishing.
This drew a furious response from Smyth, who said: "I've never read a bigger loads of balls.
"Firstly, they got my wee tub of personal smoke that I use to self-medicate for anxiety and depression, instead of being a tablet head. Also I have no involvement with any paramilitary group.
"You (PSNI) haven't got a big bust, you are a waste of taxpayers' money who need to get some better information. I'm just a young lad trying to start a business and someone doesn't like it too much."
In a statement the PSNI revealed the search of Smyth's home was part of a Paramilitary Crime Taskforce investigation into loyalist drug dealing.
Detective Chief Inspector Cummings said: "Officers carried out a planned search of the property in an operation targeting suspected drugs criminality linked to the South East Antrim UDA.
"During the operation officers also seized a boat. Paramilitaries are not defenders of their communities, instead they are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and exploit any circumstances they can for their own gain."
Jonny Smyth, who is originally from the loyalist Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey and aged in his 20s, believes he was set up by what he describes as a "f*****g wee rat".
He also explained how police pulled apart his suitcase as he was travelling through the airport, "ripped apart" his home, "seized all my devices" and "my f*****g boat".
In a social media rant, an angry Smyth added: "To whoever is a dirty f*****g wee rat, I'll find out who you are and it's not going to end well you rat."
Sunday Life understands that Smyth (right) was targeted by the Taskforce because of his links to former South East Antrim UDA prisoner Andrew 'Logie' Logan, with whom he goes deep sea fishing.
Cops are also probing claims that the terror gang has been using small boats to smuggle cannabis into Northern Ireland from Scotland.
Logan was previously questioned by police about violence connected to the loyalist feud in Carrickfergus three years ago that resulted in the murders of former UDA members Geordie Gilmore and Colin Horner. A 2016 attack on the 47-year-old's home by local criminals sparked the mayhem that lasted 18 months and cost £2m to police.
The South East Antrim UDA, which has approximately 2,000 members, is considered by the PSNI to be the biggest criminal gang in Northern Ireland.
Led by veteran loyalist Gary Fisher, it controls drug turf stretching from Larne 20 miles along the east Antrim coast to north Belfast, and pockets of Newtownards.
Several individuals from Carrickfergus are currently before the courts facing charges in connection with Paramilitary Crime Taskforce raids targeting South East Antrim UDA cocaine and cannabis rackets.
These include Chantelle Crozier (32) who is accused of supplying cocaine, possessing cocaine, possessing criminal property, possessing temazepam, and encouraging offences to be committed.
Father and son Norman Haggan Snr (75) and Norman Haggan Jnr (41) are also facing charges of possessing cannabis with intent to supply, possessing cocaine and possessing ammunition in suspicious circumstances.