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Entries in Tivoli Gardens (6)


Christopher Dudus Coke: Pleads Guilty

Jamaica, the country that brought the world such sportsmen like Usain Bolt and entertainers like Bob Marleyalso has a dark side. That dark side is represented by Christopher "Dudus" Coke.

In August 2009 the U.S. issued an international warrant seeking the extradition of Christopher Coke from Jamaica to face gun and drugs charges in the U.S. He was accused of being the leader and mastermind behind the notorious "Shower Posse" gang which was involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms.

For a long time the government of Jamaica resisted the request but finally, bowing to domestic and international political pressure, moved to arrest Mr. Coke in his neighborhood known as Tivoli Gardens.

The residents of Tivoli Gardens were fiercely loyal to Mr. Coke and when the police and army moved in to execute the warrant they met stiff resistance. The residents erected barricades and engaged in gun battles. The confrontation resulted in the deaths of more than 70 people and substantial property damage as the armed forces went door to door in search of Mr. Coke. In the end Christopher Dudus Coke was captured.

In June 2010 he was extradited to the U.S. to face the charges.

On Sept. 2, 2011 Dudus pleaded guilty in a New York court to assault and racketeering charges bringing to an end a two-year international drama between Jamaica and the United States.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 8, 2011 and Christopher "Dudus" Coke faces a possible 23 years in prison.

As noted in the Jamaican Gleaner, the capture and eventual incarceration of Coke was hampered by political considerations. He was not only generous to the people of his neighborhood, Tivoli Gardens, but could be depended on by the political party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to deliver the votes at election time. In fact Tivoli Gardens is the seat in Parliament of the current Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who was reluctant to issue the arrest warrant in the first place.

Christopher Coke personifies the kind of threat to the security and democracy of small and vulnerable countries like Jamaica. Control of large amounts of resources, illicitly derived notwithstanding, endow gangsters with the capacity to corrupt the political process and to control many levers of the State by proxy. Indeed, Coke's activities - and the criminal machinations of others - were an open secret in Jamaica.

The newspaper also noted that perhaps Jamaica owes a debt of gratitude to the U.S. for pursuing Christopher Coke, since murders and serious crime have plummeted since his capture and it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Jamaican authorities to have him tried and convicted locally.

However, given Coke's political and community connections, underpinned by his ability to distribute largesse and corral votes, it is likely that he would not have been arrested and prosecuted in Jamaica. Such an eventuality would have been made more difficult by the political fault lines in Jamaica.

Christopher Dudus Coke had previously been charged with offenses that carried a sentence of life in prison. When prosecutors approached him and said that they also had evidence that he had ordered the deaths of at least five persons and a judge ruled that tapes of bugged phone calls in which he discusses smuggling marijuana, cocaine and weapons could be played in court, Coke decided to plead guilty to the lesser charges of Conspiracy to racketeer and Conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering. 

 Coke stood up in court and said:

“I ordered the purchase of firearms and the importation of those firearms into Jamaica in furtherance of this conspiracy”

When asked about his plea Coke said:

“I’m pleading guilty because I am guilty”

US Attorney Preet Bharara said: 

“For nearly two decades, Christopher Coke led a ruthless criminal enterprise that used fear, force and intimidation to support its drug and arms trafficking ‘businesses’.

 “Today’s plea is a welcome conclusion to this ugly chapter.”


Christopher Dudus Coke: Arrives in US


Christopher Dudus Coke the "Don" of Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica went before a Manhattan, NY court to plead not guilty to various drugs and illegal gun trafficking charges that could see him spending the rest of his life in prison. 

It was almost a year ago, on August 28,2009 that an extradition request was issued and presented to the Jamaican authorities. See the details here. 

The government of Jamaica and in particular the Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, delayed granting the request, resulting in strained relations between the U.S. and Jamaica.

In the end, bowing to political pressure, the Prime Minister signed the warrant for the arrest of Christopher Dudus Coke. When the police moved to execute the warrant they met stiff resistance from the Tivoli Gardens community where Dudus was believed to be staying, resulting in the government declaring a State of Emergency. 73 civilian died during this operation. Christopher Dudus Coke went into hiding.

Finally, after a month-long manhunt, Dudus decided to give himself up. He solicited the help of a well-known pastor and while en route to the U.S. embassy was captured in a roadblock on June 22,2010.

Christopher Dudus Coke was remanded in custody by U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson after his not guilty plea in the Manhattan courtroom. He is being represented by a team of lawyers, including Frank Doddato and Russel Newfeld, who plans to seek bail even though prosecutors want to keep him in jail.

Judge Robert Patterson set a new hearing for June 28,2010 at which time a decision will be made on whether to grant bail or not. 


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Christopher Dudus Coke: Captured


It's Over! Christopher Dudus Coke has been captured by the Jamaican authorities. It happened about 4:00pm on June 22, 2010 on Mandela Highway just outside the capital, Kingston.

According to reports Coke was on his way to surrender himself at the U.S. embassy, in the company of a respected preacher --- the Rev. Al Miller, pastor of the Fellowship Tabernacle --- when the vehicle in which he was traveling ran into a police roadblock. It appears as if the police had prior knowledge of Dudus' plans. Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington told reporters that they were "acting on intelligence" when the vehicle was stopped.






Coke, who was reportedly wearing a wig at the time, was transported to the Spanish Town Police Station where he was held for just over two hours before being transported by Jamaica Defence Force helicopter to an undisclosed location.

The capture of Christopher Dudus Coke after a month-long manhunt has been costly:

  • Strained relations with the U.S. 
  • A State of Emergency declared (and is still in effect) 
  • 73 lives lost in a police raid on Tivoli Gardens 
  • An embattled Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who faces an uncertain political future 

Reaction in Tivoli Gardens, Dudus' community has been mixed. Most people expressed relief that Dudus had been captured alive and showed continued support for the "Don". A throng of people -- among them the elderly and the very young -- sang pro-Coke songs and made expletive-filled, anti-Bruce Golding comments as they marched through sections of the community.

"We love wi Prezi same way. No matter what dem do we nah let down Prezi!" shouted one woman, while referring to Coke by one of his aliases.

"A him turn in himself. A him a di real big man," shouted another.

"Him school nuff a wi and give nuff a we place to live and tek care of the homeless," said Kimoy.

Tivoli Gardens resident Ina Bernard was also "glad him go in alive because a kill dem did come fi kill him, eno".

Relief fi know say him safe and dem no kill him," said one woman requesting anonymity.


The pastor, Rev. Al Miller,  that Christopher Dudus Coke turned to for help in surrendering to the U.S. authorities, is now the subject of police interest. They have issued a request that Miller turn himself in for questioning -- with his lawyer.

Miller said Coke contacted him and requested his assistance to be taken to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston.

"I, therefore, made arrangements with his lawyers because he wanted to go ahead with the extradition process. So we communicated with the US Embassy, because that's where he said he would feel more comfortable," Miller told The Gleaner.

Miller was one of the unofficial mediators and was instrumental in getting Coke's brother, Leighton (also known as 'Livity'), and sister Sandra to turn themselves in to the police for questioning. Miller said Coke has faith in him.

"He trusts me. It's no different from the others. I have carried in a number of people in the last couple of weeks," he said.

Miller said he was not concerned that his link with one of the region's most dangerous fugitives might cause his reputation irreparable damage.

"They can say anything. It's what is facts, truth and what is right that matters," he said.

According to the Jamaica Observer Miller turned himself into the police for questioning. Whether or not he will face charges is unknown.

"We can only confirm that he has turned himself in. We are not prepared to say much more at this time," head of the Constabulary Communications Network, Inspector Steve Brown told the Observer.

Now that Coke is in custody authorities say that every effort is being made to present Coke "before a magistrate within 48 hours" of his capture to face proceedings.

For more background material on the Dudus controversy see the articles below:

  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Wanted 
  • Will Christopher Dudus Coke be Extradited 
  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Still Wanted
  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Extradition Approved
  • Christopher Dudus Coke: State of Emergency


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    Christopher Dudus Coke: State of Emergency


    If there was any doubt as to the power and influence of Christopher Dudus Coke --- who controls a section of Kingston, Jamaica, known as Tivoli Gardens --- that has been put to rest.

    • Parts of Kingston are under a State of Emergency 
    • Two police stations have been attacked 
    • A third one, in Hannah Town, was set ablaze. 

    Armed gunmen who were responsible for those unprovoked attacks on the police stations have been joined by many residents of the barricaded West Kingston community in declaring their support for Christopher Dudus Coke. The message to the security forces and the government was clear: Try to arrest "Dudus" and there will be all out war.

    The unrest began after the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, declared that an arrest warrant had been issued for Christopher Dudus Coke who is being sought by U.S. authorities on gun-trafficking and drug charges. It took 9 months of procrastination by the government before the decision was finally made to grant the request for the extradition of Coke to the U.S. to face those charges.

    In responding to the unrest and declaring a State of Emergency for parts of Kingston, the Prime Minister said security forces would be "moving swiftly to bring the current situation under control".

    "Criminal elements bent on violence and mayhem will be detained," he said in a televised address.

    "What is taking place is a calculated assault on the authority of the state that cannot be tolerated, and will not be allowed to continue."

    Prime Minister Bruce Golding stressed that Kingston “is not being shut down,” and schools and businesses outside the battle zone will be open.

    Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said “scores of criminals” from gangs across the Caribbean island had traveled to West Kingston to join the fight.

    “It is now clear that criminal elements are determined to launch coordinated attacks on the security forces,” he said.

    Police said the attacks were unprovoked and called for all “decent and law-abiding citizens” in the troubled areas to immediately evacuate their homes and said security forces would ferry them out safely.

    While the U.S. sees Christopher Dudus Coke as a dangerous criminal involved in the international drug trade, in Tivoli Gardens he is a leader or "Don" who provides for the welfare of the community. Many see him as a benefactor who for many years has ensured their safety and is mainly responsible for sending their children to school and putting food on their tables.

    Hundreds of residents of West Kingston took to the streets last week to voice their support for Dudus:

    "After God, then Dudus," read one placard. "Jesus died for us so we will die for Dudus," read another, and these were not idle sentiments.

    "Leave 'Dudus' alone. Him a law-abiding citizen," many of them shouted as they assembled outside the Denham Town Police Station.

    Many of the supporters who came out in defense of Dudus were women who were very vocal in their praise of Coke's benevolence and said they were prepared to die for the man who is wanted by the U.S. as a dangerous criminal. An article in the Jamaica Observer explores the connection between the women and men of influence in their communities.





    Christopher Dudus Coke himself has had very little to say. While the uproar in the streets continue and his lawyers fight the extradition order in the courts, he has kept a very low profile. According to the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner: 

    Dudus "is not one of those flashy dons who one sees at every dance or nightclub 'flossing' with bottles of high-priced liquor and scores of scantily dressed girls in his entourage."

    He is also not one of those dons who crave the attention of the media while flaunting power.

    "You know that I don't talk to the media," is the stock response from Dudus on the few occasions journalists have been able to get close enough to ask him questions. But make no mistake, Christopher Dudus Coke wields enormous power.

    In another article The Gleaner takes a look at how the Prime Minister owes his position to Dudus. Without his approval Bruce Golding would not be the representative from West Kingston nor the Prime Minister.

    "The power-sharing framework between the man who formally represents the West Kingston constituency in which Tivoli Gardens is located, and the man who really runs the place, is just as fascinating."

    The article traces the history of the links between politics and the streets and where the real power resides. For more background material on the Dudus controversy see the articles below:


  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Wanted 
  • Will Christopher Dudus Coke be Extradited 
  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Still Wanted
  • Christopher Dudus Coke: Extradition Approved

    What happens next? Will the securities forces try to storm the barricaded Tivoli Gardens community? Will Christopher Dudus Coke give himself up? Will Bruce Golding be forced to resign as Prime Minister? No one really knows the answers. All we can do is hope that things don't get worse before they get better.....more to come.

    UPDATE: Christopher Dudus Coke: Captured 

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    Christopher Dudus Coke: Extradition Approved

    The government of Jamaica has decided to approve the request from the United States for the extradition of Christopher Dudus Coke on drugs and gun charges. The decision ends 9 months of tension between the two countries over the status of the request.

    For a detailed history of the Christopher Dudus Coke controversy see the following articles:

    In a speech televised to the Jamaican nation on May 17, 2010 the Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, said in part:

    I crave your understanding, the government has never refused... never refused... the request for the extradition of Christopher Coke. It has simply asked the US authorities to provide additional information that would enable the Minister to issue the authorization in compliance with the terms of the treaty. In the controversy that has ensued, we sought the opinion of one of Jamaica's most eminent lawyers, Dr. Lloyd Barnett, who advised that the issues involved were not sufficiently settled in law, and therefore the Attorney-General should seek a declaration from the Court before exercising her authority.

    I wrestled with the potential conflict between the issues of non-compliance with the terms of the treaty and the unavoidable perception that because Coke is associated with my constituency, the government's position was politically contrived. I felt that the concepts of fairness and justice should not be sacrificed in order to avoid that perception. In the final analysis, however, that must be weighed against the public mistrust that this matter has evoked and the destabilizing effect it is having on the nation's business. Accordingly, the Minister of Justice, in consideration of all the factors, will sign the authorization for the extradition process to commence.

    Click here for a complete transcript of the speech

    The very next morning Jamaica's Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne signed the extradition order and passed it to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewelyn who immediately secured the warrant for Coke's arrest from the court.

    Senator Tom Tavares-Finson who had acted as Christopher Coke's lawyer, served notice that he will be withdrawing as Coke's attorney. He had been criticized publicly for defending Coke while at the same time holding a position in the government. He will be replaced by attorneys, Jacqueline Samuels Brown and Paul Beswick.

    Prime Minister Bruce Golding had come under heavy criticism for his government's delay in signing the extradition request, which had been issued in August 2009. It was evident that his procrastination was a source of frustration for the American authorities which issued a scathing report on Jamaica's role in the international drug trade.

    Prime Minister Bruce Golding also faced domestic pressure from the parliamentary opposition the People's National Party (PNP) and many other organizations which felt that he was doing everything he could to protect Christopher Dudus Coke for political reasons. Coke was not only a strong supporter of the Prime Minister's party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), but was also in control of the Prime Minister's constituency of Tivoli Gardens where he (Coke) is regarded as a "Don" and is unanimously respected and beloved by the people who live there.

    In fact, there lies a huge problem for the government if and when they attempt to execute the arrest warrant. There is bound to be civil unrest and quite possibly armed opposition from the people of Tivoli Gardens if the security forces attempt to take Christopher Dudus Coke into custody.

    According to Reneto Adams, a retired senior superintendent of police, even if Coke could be taken into custody there would have to be massive security arrangements put in place:

    "If he is arrested, the Government would have to deploy added security in key strategic places. You would also have to house him at Up Park Camp and certain routes on which he would be driving would have to be closed down. We are looking at an extensive operation because this man has great influence," said Adams.

    "It will be a maximum security plan with all kinds of persons involved: people from the intelligence arena, people from the strike force, obviously some snipers will be in place," he added.



    In the meantime residents of Tivoli Gardens are preparing for the worst. Upon hearing of the arrest warrant for Christopher Dudus Coke, Tivoli Gardens has been turned into a fortified community with roadblocks erected at all main entrance points. However there has been no signs of violence so far and after initial apprehension it appears as if businesses in the downtown area are least for now.

    UPDATE: Jamaica declares State of Emergency!

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