7 April 2005 Edition

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UVF/LVF drug dealer is former RUC man

Sinn Féin said the disclosure that suspected loyalist drug dealer Colin Armstrong is a former RUC member is the latest evidence of collusion between the British forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

Armstrong's properties, worth almost £5 million, were frozen by the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA). The 38-year-old, who lives in a new luxury house on the Tullynewbank Road in Glenavy, County Antrim, is alleged to have amassed his fortune by dealing in drugs under the protection of the UVF and later the LVF.

Armstrong has no criminal convictions, but it is understood he was investigated by the PSNI over alleged drug offences but never charged.

Control has been taken by the ARA of up to 50 properties as part of a probe into the father of three's alleged drug dealing.

Armstrong, with properties in Craigavon and Portadown, also owns apartments in Dublin and the Cote D'Azur in the south of France.

The ARA argued at the High Court that Armstrong was linked to drug trafficking between Belguim and the Six Counties in 1994 and had links with the UVF and then the LVF after the loyalist paramilitary organisation split in mid-Ulster.

Lisburn Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler described the revelation of Armstrong's RUC and loyalist paramilitary links as "further worrying evidence of collusion".

He said that with the allegations emerging of Armstrong's assets, drug dealing and loyalist links, as well as that he is a former member of the RUC, is a very worrying development.

"The failure to secure a prosecution against Armstrong will only raise suspicions that he has enjoyed some sort of immunity over the years due to his close connections to the PSNI," said Butler.

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