'RAAD are holding us to ransom' - ex Provo

A former senior member of the Provisional IRA has described claims that self styled Republican Action Against Drugs is 'mostly ex-PIRA members as "a joke."

The source also said people living and working in Creggan are doing so in fear of the group, claiming many young people have been forced to leave Derry by the vigilante gang.

Claims were also made that Creggan is "like a pressure cooker at the moment and it is only a matter of time before the situation results in large scale bloodshed on the streets of the Estate.

"As for RAAD being mostly ex-PIRA that's a joke. They are made up from people who, when the war was on hid and some others who are easily led. They answer to no- one yet hold whole communities to ransom."

The letter also alleges that "some of their members have been known to deal in the past."

The situation on the estate is certainly tense.

Anecdotal evidence in Creggan suggests the group are now targetting those it accuses of low level anti-social behaviour rather than its original stated aim of addressing drug dealers.

Kidnapped

The Journal has learned that the group has kidnapped and interogated several young men in 'intelligence' operations.

The Journal has spoken to some of the men involved. They describe being punched, threatened with guns, execution and 'six packs.'

Understandably none of the men, some of whom are still in their teens, wish to be identified. All of them deny being drug dealers.

A six pack is two bullet wounds each to the ankles, knees and elbows, a punishment described as "sadistic" by the former IRA man.

In a letter to the Journal the former Volunteer claims RAAD have managed something that the British Army and RUC failed to do.

"This group has put the fear into our areas something the Brits and RUC couldn't do. Let the people best capable of dealing with it (Drugs problems) get on with it. Make the PSNI/RUC do their work."

Last year alone RAAD was responsible for more than 20 shootings and bombings across Derry. On more than one occassion the goup claimed to have "confiscated substantial" amounts of drugs from dealers.

In his letter the former activist asks RAAD where has the money and drugs confiscated from dealers gone?

"What happens to the drugs and money that is being taken off these dealers? RAAD should take a hard look at themselves."

The author also claims that bar staff in the area "are too scared to speak out" after intimidation by members of RAAD.

"They are holding the entire area to ransom," the former senior Provo said.