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Americas

Jamaican police arrest suspected drug lord Coke

media Christopher "Dudus" Coke in an undated file photo Reuters

Police in Jamaica have captured alleged Jamaican druglord Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who is wanted by United States. His arrest came after a manhunt through a slum in May in which 73 people were killed.

"The security forces wish to confirm reports that Christopher Lloyd Coke, for whom police is holding a warrant of arrest regarding extradition proceedings, was arrested this afternoon," police commissioner Owen Ellington said.

Local church leader Reverend Al Miller earlier told reporters he helped in the process to hand over Coke.

Miller helped in negotiations to ease tensions after last month’s week-long assault on the impoverished Tivoli Gardens slum, Coke's stronghold in Kingston, led the government declare a state of emergency.

Although Coke is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges, he is also hailed by many residents as a Robin Hood figure who offers security and jobs on some of the world's toughest streets.

"I would like to appeal to the families, friends and sympathisers of Christopher Coke to remain calm and to allow the law to take its course," Ellington said.

LISTEN
Ben Bowling, King's College London 23/06/2010 - by Salil Sarkar Listen

Despite heavy security, house-to-house searches and a shoot-out between security forces and armed Coke supporters, he managed to evade capture, amid rumours that he was either being sheltered or had fled the island.

Coke was a businessman and a political player. He was chief of the Shower Posse gang named for showering bullets on foes.

The Shower Posse’s reach extended into mainstream Kingston, and businesses paid money to ensure safety.

Ben Bowling, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at King's College London, suggests that it is no surprise that Coke has such influence.

“What’s happened is that the organised crime groups… are part of a political machine that has a long history and deep roots in Jamaican history,” he told RFI.

“The group area leaders are responsible for – and have been for many years – guaranteeing votes for one political party or the other during election periods, but also in providing basic services and amenities to neighbourhoods like Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town that feel as though they’ve abandoned by the state."

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