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Police gain control of slum, but not Coke

media Armed police question men on the street in the market area near Tivoli … Reuters

Jamaican security forces took back control of the Tivoli Gardens slum in Kingston, Jamaica late Wednesday where drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke is allegedly holed up. Police have not been able to capture Coke, however, who is wanted on an extraditon warrant to the United States for his drug dealing activities there.

Police have detained more than 500 people in connection to the violence in Kingston that erupted for three days after the international warrant was issued.

Criminology professor Ben Bowling 27/05/2010 - by Clea Caulcutt Listen

Calm has returned to Jamaica's capital on Thursday. Medical personnel claim that 66 people were killed during the siege, while the public defender claimed the death toll is at 44 so far.

Information Minister Darryl Vaz said that schools in and around Tivoli Gardens would remain closed on Thursday but downtown businesses would open.

The police said that security forces had seized tall buildings and were conducting house-to-house searches for Coke. They gave no indication as to whether Coke was still in Kingston or even in Jamaica.

A number of gangs support Coke, and it remains difficult to tell who is supporting the known drug dealer, although some believed that is the citizens' militia  that enforces security in the neighbourhood.

Residents criticised police tactics. They told Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie they had been harassed while he toured the slum Wednesday night.

"These people have rights too," McKenzie said on Jamaican television. "They have not had a proper meal since Sunday. What is on my mind is trying to get some comfort to them. I know the community is hurting and upset with us. It is going to take us some time to rebuild that trust and rebuild confidence."

The Jamaican Red Cross said it would deliver food to the area.

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