Jamaican gang leader may have fled: government

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Jamaican gang leader may have fled: government

Unread post by admin » May 27th, 2010, 5:25 am

This topic correspond to the post that can be found at http://www.streetgangs.com/news/052710_ ... der:CTV.ca News Staff
May. 27 2010

Though Jamaican security forces have gained a precarious grip on the slum stronghold of accused drug don Christopher "Dudus" Coke, members of the government now say they can't even be sure he's still in the country.

"I could not say if he is in Jamaica," Information Minister Daryl Vaz said Thursday of Coke. "It's very difficult to tell."

Hundreds of police and soldiers began raiding the Tivoli Gardens ghetto in Kingston on Sunday, in search of Coke, who's the alleged leader of the "Shower Posse" gang and is wanted in the U.S. on numerous drug and gun charges.

The ensuing three days of street battles with armed gunmen claimed the lives of at least 73 people, according to Jamaican police. Officials previously said 44 civilians had died.

Police and soldiers are now conducting a door-to-door search in the gritty neighborhood, hoping to rout out the kingpin.

Seth George Ramocan, the Jamaican consul general in Toronto, reports that the situation has now calmed somewhat.

"The corporate areas -- Kingston and St. Andrew -- are returning to normalcy," Ramocan told CTV's Canada AM Thursday. "Businesses are back up and running, schools are reopening, and people are going about their business quite freely."

"Of course, in the deeply affected areas, security forces are still arresting quite a number of persons. In fact more than 300 people have been detained."

Ramocan noted it's not surprising that people in Tivoli Gardens have fought so hard against police efforts to arrest Coke.

"There are many people who seem to benefit from his activities and presence there and as a result many in the community are endeared to him," he explained.

Courtney Betty, a lawyer who practices law both in Canada and in Jamaica, agrees.

"They call him the president because he's literally the one who provides food, education – all the resources for this community," Betty told Canada AM.

Betty says the problems in Jamaica are systemic and longstanding, with politicians in the country building cozy ties with gang leaders who control ghetto fiefdoms.

"This has been going on for about 40 years," he told Canada AM.

"Actually, [Coke's] father used to be a don and went through the same extradition process about 15 years ago, and there were similar problems."

The slum presided over by Coke has long been a bastion of support for the governing Jamaica Labor Party. It is part of the district represented in parliament by Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Betty says the government has allowed Coke to gain tremendous power, all in an effort to rustle up votes.

"This is the kind of stuff that Bob Marley sang about many years ago," Berry said.

Golding has been accused of stonewalling the U.S.'s extradition request since August, before finally reversing himself under pressure from Washington and the local opposition. Golding denies allegations his party is close to Coke. But some political observers say he could not have been elected without the gang leader's support.

"There is a widespread perception that Coke is closely linked to the dominant JLP as evident in Golding's prevarication, maneuvering and ultimately dissembling on the matter of the extradition and on the related sideshow," Brian Meeks, a professor at Jamaica's University of the West Indies, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has called for Coke's extradition, accusing him of trafficking marijuana and cocaine to New York City and elsewhere since the 1990s. The U.S. Justice Department has named Coke one of the world's most dangerous drug kingpins.

Betty says even if Coke is found and arrested, it won't change anything in Jamaica.

"This operation could end over the next few days, but after that, there will be another Mr. Coke who's going to arrive unless the government -- and probably other international communities -- is prepared to contribute to rebuilding this community.

"It's just going to continue. There's no reason to believe anything is going to change once Mr Coke is -- whether he's extradited or not. Nothing is going to change in this community unless we begin to rebuild for the next generation."

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