The Jamaican government has agreed extradite to the US the accused leader of the notorious Shower Posse drug gang, Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s controversial decision reverses months of opposition to his extradition. Coke will be sent to New York to face drug and gun trafficking charges.
Shops and schools closed early in parts of Kingston said to be controlled by the Shower Posse, amid fears of trouble. Coke’s supporters are believed to have stockpiled weapons in his West Kingston stronghold, and may be prepared to resist his arrest. Barricades are reported on the streets of the Tivoli Gardens area.
"Dudus" is the son of late Shower Posse leader Lester Lloyd Coke, more commonly known as Jim Brown, a key figure in Jamaica’s 1980s cocaine wars. US prosecutors say the son took over the organization after the father’s death in 1991 in a prison fire while waiting to be returned to the United States. The Shower Posse’s drug and guns networks are said to extend to the US and Canada.
The move to extradite comes a week after Golding admitted his party had approved the hiring of a Los Angeles-based law firm suspected of lobbying Washington on behalf of Coke. After long denying any knowledge of the firm's hiring, Golding confessed and apologized to the nation in a TV broadcast May 17.
"In hindsight, the party should never have become involved in the way that it did and I should never have allowed it, but I must accept responsibility for it and express my remorse to the nation," he said. Golding added he had offered his resignation, but that his party had not accepted it.
For nine months, Golding had argued that Coke should not be extradited because the evidence against him had been obtained illegally by intercepting mobile phone calls. The US insists the extradition request "was properly prepared and submitted." (Jamaica Observer, May 19; Hip Hop Wired, BBC News, May 18)