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Jamaica: ‘Dudus’ In Custody

Categories: Caribbean, Jamaica, Breaking News, International Relations, Law, Media & Journalism, Politics

News broke late yesterday [1] that Jamaica's most wanted man, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke – whose pending extradition to the United States to face charges of drug and arms trafficking threw the island nation into a state of emergency [2] thanks to a standoff between alleged criminal elements and national security forces [3] – had finally been captured.

There appears to be some debate over whether Coke was actually caught, or if he turned himself in [4] with the assistance of Reverend Al Miller, now deemed to be “a major person of interest.” [5] Jamaica Salt [6] comments:

So Christopher Coke is in police custody after the police on the checkpoint at Nelson Mandela Highway recognised him with the Rev Al Miller [7].

The negotiations to hand himself in had been well reported before the killings in Tivoli Gardens which left 74 people dead (Seaga says the number is 150) [8].

Now the police want Rev Al Miller as they seem to be upset that they were going to be bypassed altogether. It seems Dudus was in Kingston and surrounds all this time – as were his family. The police didn’t find him, although they are trying to say that there was “intelligence” which led to his capture. The facts are that he was arrested on the way to handing himself in. Kingston is not that big.

Now police Cssr Ellington wants Rev Al Miller – but the police let him go at the time and he had plenty of opportunity to question him following the surrender of the brother and sister, why didn’t he talk to him then?

Cayman-based Jamaican blogger Mad Bull [9] also has some questions:

I wonder if he was running to go and hide somewhere else again, or if the goodly Reverend was, in fact, taking him to the U.S. Embassy. I wonder whose agenda the Reverend is really pushing? How come he is so tight with criminals and drug king pins and so on.

After all, he has mentioned publicly that he has been counseling Dudus to give up himself for some time. How come he can communicate with Dudus seemingly at will and the Jamaican government can’t find him? Why has he not worked with the Government to bring him to justice? Interestingly enough, it was the same Reverend Al Miller who facilitated the surrender of two of Coke’s siblings in the past.

Labrish [10] notes that the police have “raised the threat level from criminal violence against the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to extremely high, meaning that attacks are expected imminently”, while Girl With a Purpose [11] provides further details:

He was taken into police custody at Ferry near the Hydel Group of Schools on the border of St. Catherine and St. Andrew, less than one hour ago during a Police Spot Check in the area.

Apparently Mr. Coke was on his way to the US Embassy in Liguanea, St. Andrew, to turn himself into the US authorities there.

Parliament is to take a vote tonight, as to whether or not to extend the State of Emergency to July 22,2010.

Cabinet has already given the go-ahead for it to be extended. (Also the Parliamentary Opposition has verbally expressed its agreement with the extension…so the vote is just a formality).

There is also to be a State of Emergency implemneted for the parish of St. Catherine, due to the troublesome rise in incidents of crime in that parish.

The St. Catherine State of Emergency will start at midnight tonight and last until midnight, July 22, 2010.

Jamaica Salt [6] manages to find the humour in an otherwise serious situation:

A little bit of comedy in all this, is that the police say they found him wearing this disguise – a wig and fake glasses. It seems funny that a man who is supposed to be an alleged mastermind of a gang worth millions should choose this little disguise. Some might have fled to S America and had plastic surgery, Dudus stays in Kingston dressed like a Swiss boy.

But Salt [6], along with other bloggers [12], cannot help but speculate as to what happens next:

Dudus faces life in prison in the US if convicted of the drug and gun charges against him. it will be interesting to see what he says when he gets there – is he going to spill the beans on PM Bruce Golding?

The Wickedest Time [13] has more questions than answers:

The big question is what next?? Will he suffer the same fate as his father who was burnt alive in a Jamaican jail while waiting for his extradition to the US?? Who will recieve the US$60,000/JA$5 Million bounty that was rested on the head of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke?? When will it be released??

The one month crisis that forced Jamaica into a state of emergency claimed the lives of one soldier and 73 civilians… so now that he is in custody, will the lives of the citizens go back to normal?

Chez Hsia [14] gets the last word:

Dudus was transported to the Spanish Town Police Station, then Spanish Town prison, and then airlifted back into Kingston, where he is awaiting a court date that they say will be set in the next couple of days.

My guess: the Jamaican government will use the delay to try and charge him with a crime based on information they have obtained during the detention and inquisition, and will resist handing him over to the US on the grounds that they want to prosecute him domestically first. It will be an interesting few days watching how this further unfolds…whether the US turns the screws to get custody of him, or whether they are diplomatically required to respect the autonomy of the Jamaican people to prosecute their own, even if it is merely a ploy to prevent Jamaica’s leaders from being implicated in criminal activity. Stay tuned…