Hours after his extradition hearing ended, former drug over lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke (born Michael Christopher Coke) appealed to fellow Jamaicans to pray for him as he embarked on his legal journey to the United States where he is set to stand trial on drug and weapons trafficking charges later today.
The extradition hearing, which was held at the headquarters of the elite Mobile Reserves along Camp Road in Kingston and lasted a mere 15 minutes, was set Wednesday by Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn after an early morning meeting with senior officers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The former Don, who is believed to be the head of the notorious street gang “Shower Posse” appeared at his hearing clad in a blue and white striped shirt, Clarks shoes with gray jeans. He wore a gold chain around his neck that hung over his white undershirt.
As he entered the courtroom escorted by three policemen around 9:55 a.m., Coke, who was not handcuffed, acknowledged reporters with a nod as walked past.
Flanked by his lawyers Tom Tavares Finson and George Soutar, the only time Coke spoke during the brief hearing, which was presided over by Resident Magistrate Georgianna Fraser, was to acknowledge that he understood that he would be facing trial in New York and confirmed that he wanted to waive his rights.
Coke was then served with a Restraint Order, which indicated that all of his assets had been frozen. When the hearing ended, Coke was transported to Red Fence at the Jamaica Defense Force Up Park Camp headquarters until he was flown to the airport and handed over to U.S. Marshals.
“Dudus” Asks For Prayers
Coke’s prayer request was made in a two-page typed statement and issued through his lawyer Tom Tavares Finson. In the statement, Coke said he was leaving Jamaica with a heavy heart, but was convinced he would be “vindicated” at trial.
“Pray for me and God bless Jamaica,” Coke’s statement read. The 41-year-old Don said he was leaving the country and his family, mother Patsy (Pauline Haliburton) in particular, with a “heavy heart” adding that he was “fully confident that in due course I will be vindicated and returned to them.”
In response, Coke’s mother told the Jamaican Observer that she has sent her son God’s love. “If I could say anything to him, I would tell him that God is by your side, be good, keep strong and I love you.”
Halliburton, 63, who is blind and suffers from diabetes, told the Jamaican Observer, “I’m strong, if not for myself but for my son.”
Coke, who is said to be the son of accused Jamaican drug lord Lester Lloyd Coke, stated that he decided to waive his rights to an extradition trial of his own “free will” and that he’d done so despite his belief that his trial “would have been successfully argued in the court of Jamaica”
“I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of West Kingston and in particular the people of Tivoli and above all Jamaica,” said Coke, who left Up Park Camp around 1:30 p.m. by Jamaica Defense Force helicopter en route to the Norman Manley International Airport where he was placed on a flight to New York.
U.S. Sends Recovery Search Teams, Cadaver Dogs to Trivoli Gardens
Meanwhile, the United States sent a search team with two cadaver dogs into Tivoli Gardens, searching an area of the village they believe may be a burial site. The dogs have fixated on an area covered with stagnant water.
Federal authorities called in the search team after the discovery of a body buried in a shallow grave in Tivoli Gardens two weeks ago. Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green said the dogs are searching for other bodies believed to be buried in the community.
Earlier today, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said charges are pending against 30 people detained during the West Kingston operation last month when street thugs in support of Coke attacked Jamaican security forces, set fire to police stations, then barricaded themselves inside Trivoli Gardens, which led to a violent and bloody battle that left 73 civilians and three members of the security forces dead.
“Individuals who had been released will be re-arrested,” Ellington announced this afternoon while speaking at the PSOJ Chairman’s Club forum held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
Police searching West Kingston found high tech explosives and a cache of weapons, some never seen before on the island. Ellington said some of the explosives were the kind used by terrorists. The official gun count from the search stands at 88, with over 14,000 rounds of ammunition.