Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke 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
Unlike other dons, such as the late
William ‘Willie Haggart’ Moore, Dudus will party quietly, and most times, you
won’t even know that he is at the dance.
He is also not one of those dons who
crave the attention of the media while flaunting power.
You would not find him following in
the footsteps of the incarcerated Donald ‘Zekes’ Phipps, who would pose for the
television cameras and boast about what he had done or would be doing.
“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 none of the numerous dons,
strongmen or area leaders Jamaica has produced has wielded the influence of
Coke – a man people call ‘Shortman’, ‘Presi’, ‘Bossy’, or just plain ‘Dudus’.
A successful businessman, the company,
Incomparable Enterprise, for which he was director up to December 2002,
received millions of dollars in state contracts annually. His other company,
Presidential Click, stages the biggest weekly street dance – ‘Passa Passa’- in
Jamaica, plus what is now a dancehall calendar event,’Champions In Action’.
Coke, according to key police sources,
manages a network of criminal associates across the island, the Caribbean,
North America and the United Kingdom.
Dudus is benefactor to many persons
who depend on him to send their children to school, buy food and, most
important, settle disputes beyond Jamaican borders.
But the United States authorities say
a big portion of the wealth Dudus spends so freely comes from the illegal drug
trade, while many of the guns on the streets of Jamaica are brought here
through his criminal network.
“Dudus runs the most sophisticated
drug ring in Jamaica,” a senior cop told The Sunday Gleaner, although he could
offer no explanation as to why local police had not arrested and charged him in
connection with any major crime.
“Dem man deh big and have links on
both sides of the political fence, even though you know him support the JLP
(Jamaica Labour Party),” said a rookie cop who entered the force with the
bright idea that he could be the one to arrest and prosecute some of the
island’s crime kingpins.
“The senior man them already tell me
say some man bigger than me, so all if me see Dudus with a spliff (ganja
cigarette), me fi just mek him gwaan,” added the rookie.
power of the man
That is an indication of the power of
the man, and if there was any lingering questions about the reach of Dudus –
who is wanted in the United States to answer gun and drug charges – those
should have disappeared in the past few days.
The extradition request for Dudus is
threatening to put an end to the political life of a prime minister, has
already caused the resignation of a government senator, and has led to
questions about the credibility of an administration that came to power with
great expectations less than three years ago.
In addition, it has reduced commerce
in downtown Kingston to a fraction of its regular performance, forced the army
to call out the National Reserve, and caused the police to engage in planning
an information strategy that has never before been seen by or commandeered the
full attention of the entire nation.
If that were not enough, the spin-off
from the extradition request has led the US to issue a travel alert for
Jamaica, caused Britain and Canada to issue travel advisories for their
nationals, and has the international media flooding Jamaica with calls for
While widespread rumour has it that
CIA operatives have flooded Jamaica on account of the Coke issue, The Sunday
Gleaner can confirm that international law-enforcement agencies and
national-security partners have been keeping a close watch on the Dudus drama.
The Member of Parliament for West
Kingston – the home base of Dudus – Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has appealed
to the residents of Tivoli Gardens to remain calm and allow the extradition
request to go through the courts.
However, the appeal, delivered from
the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday, sounded more like an outsider
pleading for cooperation rather than the man in charge of the constituency.
Of note, Golding did not say to the
residents, ‘Remove the many fortified blockades that you have erected!, an
order that if issued by Dudus, would take place in minutes.
Hundreds of residents of West Kingston
took to the streets last week to voice their support for Dudus and, while some
joined the crowd out of fear that they would be targeted if they did not
participate, many were out because of a genuine love for the ‘President’.
“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.
The police are hoping that lawyers
representing Coke will convince him to turn himself in and if that does not
work, the security forces are adamant that they will arrest him. But as that
drama plays out, an entire nation holds its collective breath as one man holds
a country hostage.