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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Hutches one of at least three gangs flooding Belfast with highly-potent heroin

The increase in the number of heroin overdoses has resulted in local politicians warning users of a potentially fatal batch doing the rounds.

Image: RollingNews.ie

A SPIKE IN heroin overdoses in Belfast is being blamed on the Hutch gang which has been moving more of its drug supply north of the border due to heightened garda attention in Dublin.

TheJournal.ie understands that pressure on the Dublin drug scene by gardaí has resulted in the Hutch gang moving their product north of the border by using contacts near the border region.

The Hutch gang, knowing that a new market had opened up following the imprisonment of a well-known heroin dealer and with problems of their own in Dublin, struck a deal with low-level drug pushers in the city.

It is understood that the supply of heroin is coming from a number of bases – including Dundalk and Balbriggan.

While the latest increase in drug overdoses is anecdotal, the most up-to-date statistics available showed that there were more than 1,ooo patients admitted to hospital in Belfast last year for drug overdoses.

At least three other groups, most with links to loyalist paramilitary organisations, are also involved in the supply of heroin across the city.

The increase in the number of heroin overdoses has resulted in local politicians warning users of a potentially fatal batch doing the rounds.

Belfast councillor Malachaí O’Hara said that a report from the Drug and Alcohol Monitoring and Information System (DAMIS) suggested that a strong batch of heroin was in circulation around Lisburn and Belfast.

I would warn people to be careful before taking any substance if they are unsure of what it contains… Our community has lost too many people to drugs. If anyone experiences any unusual symptoms after taking drugs, they should not hesitate to seek medical attention. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Belfast DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly also issued a warning. She said: “There is a seriously dangerous batch of heroin doing the rounds in the Lisburn and Belfast areas – warnings have been issued, including through needle exchanges.”

The Hutch gang’s links to the North, and Belfast especially, are well-established. Senior members of the criminal group have used safehouses in the city. At least one senior member of the gang is still living in Belfast. That man has survived at least two separate attempts on his life.

The PSNI is investigating if that man is helping direct a portion of the heroin trade in Belfast.

The Hutch gang moved into the drug trade – from armed robbery – relatively recently. However, the feud with the Kinahan cartel has meant the gang needs the cash available from moving drugs.

Read: Gardaí seize cash, designer watches and cars in raids targeting Kinahan crime gang >

Read: Two Hutch gang members told to leave Dublin after spate of shootings >

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