Jamaican Gang Boss Arrested On Way To American Embassy

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Jamaican Gang Boss Arrested On Way To American Embassy

Unread post by admin » June 23rd, 2010, 11:23 am

This topic correspond to the post that can be found at http://www.streetgangs.com/news/062310_ ... boss:Chris McGreal (The Guardian)

June 23, 2010

The Jamaican police have captured the once powerful gang leader, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, as he was on his way to surrender to the US embassy in Kingston weeks after leading a bloody urban battle to avoid deportation for trial to New York.

Coke appears to have wanted to hand himself in to the Americans out of concern for his safety after his father died in a mysterious prison cell fire that some Jamaicans believe was intended to prevent him talking in court about the close links between the island's criminal gangs and leading politicians.

The authorities declared a curfew in large parts of Kingston after warning that further violence by Coke's powerful Shower Posse gang was "expected imminently" following their leader's arrest.

Coke, 42, who was described as the "don of criminal dons" and until recently widely regarded as the most powerful man in Jamaica, was being held in a police station near Kingston that was heavily fortified by police guards.

The police commissioner, Owen Ellington, said Coke was arrested at a roadblock after the authorities received intelligence about his movements.

But a local evangelical clergyman, Al Miller, told a Jamaican radio station he had been accompanying Coke to the US embassy after arranging his surrender to the Americans when they were stopped by the police and recognised. Miller helped Coke's brother, Leighton "Livity" Coke, hand himself in to the authorities earlier this month.

The police said they were keen to question Miller about his contacts with Coke while he was on the run.

Miller said that Coke would not fight his extradition to New York to face trial on drug and weapons trafficking charges. The Americans allege that Coke heads a criminal empire stretching from Jamaica to Europe and North America.

It is not clear if the US authorities had agreed to accept Coke's surrender or if they even knew he was coming. One possibility is that the Americans tipped off the Jamaican police as it is likely that the embassy would have had to have handed him over in order for the formal extradition procedures to be followed.

However, Ellington said that Coke could face charges locally first.

At least 76 people were killed during four days of violence in the Kingston neighbourhood of Tivoli Gardens three weeks ago where Coke and his gang were supported by many residents.

When the Jamaican government said it would extradite Coke, his gangs attacked police stations. The assault prompted the declaration of a state of emergency in the capital and the biggest security force mobilisation in Jamaica's history.

Hundreds of soldiers and much of Kingston's police force were brought in as the military swept in to Tivoli Gardens in search of Coke. He and his men fled after a day of fighting. But the violence went on as the military and police swept through the neighbourhood, rounding up men and, according to witnesses, summarily killing some of those they detained.

Thousands of people were trapped in the areas of fighting. Streets in most of the rest of Kingston were abandoned for days.

Many residents of Tivoli Gardens said they did not want to see Coke captured because his gang had provided money and assistance for necessities such as education and healthcare.

But other Jamaicans supported the move against Coke because his and other gangs were viewed as having grown to powerful and as having corrupted politics for too long.

Jamaica's prime minister, Bruce Golding, recently pledged to sever the ties between the gangs and political parties and to break the grip of the criminal "dons" on whole communities and large parts of the economy. But political leaders have acknowledged that will not be possible without a significant shift in resources to uplift the poorest Jamaicans. Until then, with Jamaica sitting as a stopover on the hugely profitable drug smuggling route between Latin America and the US, Coke's arrest is not likely to put an end to the problem.

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