Alleged Jamaican gang leader extradited to U.S.
Christopher (Dudus) Coke arrives in New York
Suspected drug kingpin Christopher (Dudus) Coke has been extradited from Jamaica to the United States, where he faces a litany of drug and weapons charges.
Coke arrived in New York City under tight security on Thursday to face charges he flooded the East Coast with shipments of cocaine and marijuana, U.S. authorities said.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents brought Coke by plane to an airport in suburban White Plains, New York, hours after he waived his right to extradition in Jamaica.
Coke was captured Tuesday after a month-long manhunt. He was disguised in a wig and riding with Rev. Al Miller, an influential evangelical preacher who said Coke was on his way to surrender at the U.S. Embassy.
"He was arrested by a party of policemen running a big checkpoint along the Mandela Highway and they were acting on intelligence," said Jamaican police commissioner Owen Ellington.
The arrest came after a failed attempt to hunt Coke down in the West Kingston slum of Tivoli Gardens. Jamaican security forces swept into the neighbourhood in May in a bid to find and detain Coke but encountered fierce resistance from Coke's followers.
More than 70 people were killed as Coke's local supporters clashed with police and soldiers.
In agreeing to leave Jamaica without a legal fight, Coke said he was saddened by the lives lost in street clashes. He said he hopes his decision will help Jamaica heal.
"I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of western Kingston and in particular the people of Tivoli Gardens and above all Jamaica," Coke said in a statement released to the news media, his first public comments since the U.S. requested his extradition in August.
Shower Posse allegedly flooded U.S. with drugs
An indictment unsealed last month in federal court in Manhattan alleges that since 1994, members of Coke's notorious Shower Posse gang in Jamaica and their U.S. counterparts "have sold narcotics, including marijuana and crack cocaine, at Coke's direction."
Coke has expressed confidence that he will be found innocent and allowed to return to his family in Jamaica.
The government initially resisted the extradition request in a nine-month standoff with the United States that became a political liability for Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who represents Tivoli Gardens' district in parliament. Golding, whose governing party has long-standing ties to Tivoli Gardens, narrowly survived a no-confidence vote over his handling of the case earlier this month.
Coke faces a maximum sentence of life in prison in the United States if convicted of drug and gun trafficking charges.