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Security forces raid Dudus stronghold

media Police officers searching a man in Kingston, 24 May Photo: Reuters

Soldiers and police in Jamaica raided the stronghold of alleged drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke in the Tivoli Gardens area of Kingston on Monday. Three people died in the raid and several men were arrested, but Coke, who is wanted by the United States, was not apprehended. The US embassy has denied that there was any scheduled meeting with Dudus’ lawyer.

“Reports up to an hour ago is that the law enforcement did not apprehend him,” National Security Minister Dwight Nelson said late on Monday.

More than 1,000 members of security forces broke through barricades erected by Coke's supporters, according to some news reports.

The Jamaican police said they would respond to the “vile and cold actions” against them.

“It is now patently clear that they are hellbent on causing mayhem in the society,” said Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

Gunfire and explosions could be heard across the public housing complex, while the radio airwaves were filled with pleas from residents trapped in buildings.

Those loyal to Coke had begun barricading streets and preparing for battle once Prime Minister Bruce Golding had approved Coke’s extradition.

Coke is wanted by the US for allegedly selling marijuana and crack cocaine in New York. He was charged in August and has been labelled by the Justice Department as one of the “world’s most dangerous narcotics kingpins”.

Golding is expected to address the House of Representatives on Tuesday to update them on the situation, two days after he declared a state of emergency in the capital.

Meanwhile, Coke’s lawyer had apparently tried to schedule a meeting with the US embassy to discuss the charges. However, an embassy spokesperson denied that there was any planned meeting.

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