Christopher “Dudus” Coke Wanted
Posted by shadmia on October 31, 2009
Christopher “Dudus” Coke, 40, a Jamaican national, is wanted by the US authorities on a number of drug and weapon offenses. See the story here.
The U.S. has officially asked the Jamaican government to hand him over to face those charges and has complained about the tardiness on the part of Jamaican government to do so. See the extradition request here.
“The U.S. government is looking forward to the Jamaican government respecting their obligations under the treaty,” Patricia Attkisson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, said.
Acknowledging the request for Christopher Dudus Coke’s extradition, a Jamaican official responded:
“The Government has been notified and discussions are taking place. It is principally the prerogative of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s office”, Foreign Affairs Minister Kenneth Baugh said.
Coke’s lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson, said he had not seen any paperwork and did not know why the U.S. was interested in his client. He claimed that Coke had no connections with the United States and was also not sure if his client would turn himself in voluntarily.
“We’re waiting to hear what the decision is,” said Tavares-Finson, who has dismissed the U.S. charges as “hype.”
According to reports, Coke is the alleged leader of the “Shower Posse” gang. He is charged in the U.S. Southern District of New York with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to illegally traffic in firearms. Coke faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. Under the Extradition Treaty, accused persons do not have to sell illicit drugs in the United States to be convicted in that country. See a report in the Jamaican newspaper the Jamaica Gleaner concerning the U.S.- Jamaican Extradition Treaty.
Christopher Coke is not only politically well-connected to the governing party in Jamaica, the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party), he is also the recognized leader of his community of Tivoli Gardens in downtown Kingston. His influence stretches across the entire island of Jamaica and overseas to the U.S. and England. His extradition to the U.S. would likely have huge ramifications among his followers and his community.
Another Jamaican newspaper, the Jamaica Observer gives this perspective on Coke, as well as some background information. His aliases include Dudus, President and Shortman:
“He is the leading figure among JLP garrisons and many leaders in those communities report to him. He is tremendously powerful and is feared by friends and foes alike”
According to an article in Jamaicaviews.com, there could be social unrest if Coke was to be extradited. He has the legitimacy that the government can only envy among the urban poor. A Caribbean scholar with knowledge of the workings of inner-city communities across the region put it this way:
“For the people, legitimacy in the Government stops at Carib 5 cinema (in Cross Roads). From that point down, he (Dudus) is more legitimate than the Government. He has a monopoly of force and consensual power because he has legitimacy that the Government of Jamaica cannot even dream to have where the urban poor is concerned.”
“What does a government do when they have created a government within a government? What do they now do when they have to hand up this government to another government?” he asked. “He (Dudus) can get kids to be off the street at 8:30 pm. The Government does not even have the power to scratch anybody’s hair much more to do something like that. People feel safer in Tivoli Gardens than anywhere else. It is the safest garrison. This is touchy. In a country that barely understands order, you have found somebody to provide order in the midst of chaos because downtown is chaos. What do you do with him?”
The government in Jamaica is under pressure to respond to the U.S. request for extradition from the opposition party the PNP (People’s National Party). Peter Bunting, Opposition spokesman on national security, claims that the Government’s failure to extradite Tivoli Gardens strongman, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, has caused a stand-off between Washington and Kingston.
Peter Bunting, said in a press statement that the longer the Government took to honor the US request to send Coke to stand trial, the country’s national interests and international reputation was being jeopardized.
“It is completely untrue,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne:
“The Jamaican Government has, indeed, responded through the channels laid down in the Extradition Treaty between Jamaica and the United States and there is ongoing communication between the authorities of both states,” she said in a press statement.
There has also been criticism of Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding. Tivoli Gardens is his constituency and he has mostly been silent on the requested extradition of Christopher Coke. An editorial asked a question that Prime Minister Golding needs to answer clearly and unequivocally:
That question is “whether the Government’s loyalties lie with those who hold that the end justifies the means or the citizens of this country who are committed to order and the rule of law”.
According to Claude Robinson, a journalist with the Jamaica Observer:
All that can be expected of the Prime Minister is a simple and clear statement acknowledging the request and affirming that it will be dealt with in accordance with our democracy and our constitution without regard to the political affiliation of the target of the request. Once that due process is complete, the country will be told the full outcome. That’s all that was expected from the prime minister. He should have delivered.
So the question remains, as it has for over two months now:
Will the Jamaican government hand over Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the U.S. authorities to answer the criminal charges against him?