Click here for UPDATE on Christopher Coke’s
surrender to Jamaican police Tuesday 6/22/2010 6:10 p.m. EST
Kingston, Jamaica police have announced a tripled cash reward for information leading to the arrest of a reputed drug lord and Jamaica’s most-wanted fugitive, Christopher Coke known also as “Dudus.”
On Sunday, Jamaican officials announced that the reward amount now stands at $60,000, up from $20,000, for anyone who comes forward with information that will aid police in apprehending Coke, who is also wanted by U.S. law enforcement after a grand jury in New York indicted Coke on narcotic (crack) and marijuana and gun trafficking charges in August 2009.
U.S. Federal agents say Coke has been using female drug mules to transport narcotics into U.S. cities for more than two decades. One of the alleged mules is now a cooperating witness for U.S. Federal agents and in an affidavit used to support the extradition request, she says that women who traveled to New York to buy clothes to sell back home, were ordered by “the President” to carry cocaine hidden inside their bodies into the U.S.
The affidavit went on to say that “If the girls refuse to do so, then their businesses will be threatened and the clothing they sell and the money that they earn will be stolen,” the witness said.
Federal authorities describe the 41-year-old Jamaican native as one of the world’s most dangerous drug lord’s and one of the most powerful men in Jamaica as he has ties to members of Jamaica’s Government. Sources say some of the reasons Jamaican government officials initially declined the U.S. request to extradite Coke, who is sometimes referred to as “Bossy” and, at 5’4, “Shortman,” has to do with the fact that the drug lord knows too much about corrupt government officials on the Island.
Many of the civilians residing in Tivoli Gardens see Coke as a Robin Hood where he is known to give jobs, clothing, pay for the education of local children and literally forbids street crime in or near Tivoli Gardens though officials say members of his gang are responsible for at least 1,000 deaths.
The Times Online reported that Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding tried to avoid extraditing Coke because “he knows too much about corrupt ministers.”
Prime Minister Golding was later forced to reverse his earlier refusal, which led to the bloody street battle and admitted to the Jamaican Government that the American lobbying firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, had been hired in an attempt to overturn the American extradition order for Coke arguing that wiretaps used by the U.S. to record conversations from Coke’s Kingston mobile phone were illegal.
The U.S. State Department fired back saying, “All evidence was acquired in a manner consistent with existing international agreements.”
“I regret the entire affair,” Golding said during a televised statement. “In hindsight, the party should never have been involved and I should never have allowed it.”
Feared and revered as a god-like benefactor in the Kingston district where Cross is said to rule with automatic weapons and threats of certain death to those who do not follow him. Many in the Kingston neighborhood where Coke rules have vowed to fight to the death should police attempt to apprehend the drug lord, who faces extradition to the U.S. when captured.
After Prime Minister Golding, who represents the Tivoli Gardens district in Parliament, announced that, after nine months, he would enforce a U.S. extradition request for Coke, protesters and gang members took to the streets.
Local police then witnessed the misguided loyalty of the neighborhood when local gang members attacked officers as they stormed Coke’s Tivoli Gardens village in an attempt to locate him. Members believed to belong to the street gang “Shower Posse,” which is allegedly led by Coke, began barricading roads in preparation of a stand-off. The bloody gun battle that left 76 people, mostly civilians, dead.
The last time Trivoli Gardens residents witnessed such carnage when police attempted to storm the neighborhood once before in 2001. That gun battle left 26 people dead during a three-day standoff.
When Coke is captured, he will be extradited to the United States where he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted along with millions of dollars in fines.
Jamaican police say they do not believe Coke has left the Island and have therefore launched an Island wide search for the drug lord and called for a massive crackdown on gangs controlling dilapidated slums.
Coke joins a list of notorious drug lord’s wanted by the U.S. and described as being extremely dangerous drug lords.
In 1989, the United States invaded the South American country of Panama in search of dictator Manuel Noriega. He was captured after he sought refuge in the Vatican’s Embassy and was extradited to the U.S. where he was tried, on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in April 1992.
He was convicted and sentenced to serve his time at the maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois. His prison sentence ended in September 2007 for good behavior after he served 17 of his 30 year prison sentence. After much legal wrangling, Noriega, otherwise known as inmate 38699-079, was released from U.S. prison then extradited to France to stand trial in April 2010.
The Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, also known to natives as a Robin Hood, ruled 80 percent of the cocaine drug trade in Colombia for years along with members of his Cartel de Medellín throughout the 1980s. Wars with primary rival, Cartel De Cali, were known to be lengthy and bloody. His legal name was Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria.
U.S. officials say he was as notorious for being a kind and generous soul as he was for being a ruthless and cold-blooded killer who ruled with an iron fist. It has been alleged that Escobar was responsible for the murder of Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, the bombing of Avianca Flight 203, the 1989 bombing of the DAS Building in Bogotá and the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left-wing guerrillas (M-19) which resulted in the murder of half the judges on the court.
In 1987 Forbes magazine named Escobar as the seventh-richest man in the world with a personal wealth of approximately $25 billion. While the United States and Colombian governments denounced Escobar, natives saw him as a hero, much like the residents of Trivoli Gradens who seem to adore drug lord Coke.
Businessman once described Escobar as a “natural” when it came to public relations. He worked hard to foster goodwill among the poor people of Colombia and scored major points with the Roman Catholic Church when he constructed many churches throughout Medellín. His frequent and generous donations of money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, gained him notoriety among the natives, some whom visit his grave to this day and change the flowers atop his final resting place.
On December 2, 1993, Escobar was cornered while hiding in a barrio in Medellín and killed by Colombian forces. Some family members believe that Escobar committed suicide and was not killed by those hunting him for extradition to the U.S. His two brothers, Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sánchez Arellano, believe that he shot himself through the ears. Escobar and his wife had two children, Juan Pablo and Manuela.
Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela, known as “El Ajedrecista” (the Chess Player) took over the drug trade in Colombia with the help of members of his Cartel De Cali and was wanted by U.S. officials for decades.
Two years after the death of his rival, Escobar, Orejuela was captured during a house raid in Cali in June 1995. Orejuela was tried and convicted but accidentally released in November 2002 over an error in a judicial order issued by then deputy judge Pedro José Suárez. Recaptured by Colombian forces in March 2003 and extradited to the United States on December 3, 2004 along with his brother Miguel.
On September 26, 2006, both brothers were sentenced to 30 years in prison, after pleading guilty to narcotics and conspiracy charges. Orejuela is serving his 30 year sentence at the Federal Penitentiary in Canaan, Pennsylvania.
Is Jamaica’s Most Wanted Man Like Robin Hood?