Now it’s Dudus vs the United States

Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, the
alleged drug kingpin who enjoyed demigod status in the west Kingston stronghold
of Tivoli Gardens, shared the fate of mortal man when he spent late last week
under armed guard on United States soil.

The 41-year-old arrived shortly
after 6 pm (Jamaica time) at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New
York, and was taken to a federal lock-up.

The strongman, who was captured by
the police on Tuesday, was whisked out of Jamaica by plane at 2.05 pm Thursday,
four hours after he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Coke was taken by heavily armed
security personnel to the Norman Manley International Airport and placed in the
custody of US Marshals who were waiting to escort him on to an unmarked
aircraft.

The quickly organised departure of
the man who was, up to a month ago, considered the most feared person in
Jamaica brought an anti-climactic end to the mayhem that accompanied the
extradition request from the United States in the summer of 2009.

Minutes after Coke signed the
consent documents – indicating that he would not challenge his extradition – he
was hit with a restraining order, freezing all his assets.

There was nothing defiant about
Dudus’ demeanour throughout the course of the historic proceedings.

“I have instructed my attorneys
that I intend to waive my right to an extradition hearing in Jamaica and to
proceed directly to the United States under the terms of the extradition laws
and treaty between Jamaica and the United States of America,” Dudus’ attorney,
George Soutar, quoted Coke in a statement to the court.

Later, Coke assured a probing
Resident Magistrate (RM) Georgianna Fraser that he was fully aware of the
ramifications of his decision.

After eluding the police for a
month, the dragnet descended on Coke in less-than-spectacular fashion than the
deadly gun battle that triggered a state of emergency in late May.

The dramatic challenge to the
attempts of security personnel to apprehend Coke last month was absent
Thursday, although the armed forces took no chances.

Gone was the bravado of Tivoli
Gardens residents who demonstrated in support of Coke before barricading
themselves into the community.

Vigilant policemen and soldiers
searched vehicles on Industrial Terrace in that community during a consistent
drizzle, as the time drew near for Coke to make his appearance in court.

The sound of a Jamaica Defence
Force helicopter droned on and on as it hovered, while on the ground, security
personnel cordoned the precincts of Up Park Camp and the Mobile Reserve.

Dudus seemed calm, oblivious to the
buzz around him as he entered the court flanked by soldiers, but minus his attorneys,
minutes before the scheduled start of the 10 o’clock hearing.

Attired in blue, striped shirt,
guards towering over the 5’ 4” captive who also bears the moniker ‘Short Man’,
Dudus glanced around, before briefly nodding in acknowledgement of journalists.

Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) Paula Llewellyn told RM Fraser, who presided over the hearing, that
Coke’s attorney had not yet reached court.

Fraser inquired of Coke who was his
lawyer, to which Coke politely responded, “George Soutar.”

As if on cue, Soutar entered the
room with Tom Tavares-Finson, another attorney, in tow.

Soutar announced that Dudus had
expressed a desire to waive his right to a local court hearing, before reading
from a prepared text he attributed to Coke.

The attorney told the court that
Coke said he had made the decision of his own free will even though he believed
his case could have been successfully argued in the courts of Jamaica.

“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,” said Coke’s statement.

Coke acknowledged that the entire
country had been adversely affected by the bloodshed related to his
extradition.

He said he hoped that his decision
yesterday would help to heal the community of Tivoli Gardens, which the army
stormed to uproot a militia, resulting in the deaths of one soldier and 73
civilians.

Tavares-Finson expressed
appreciation on Coke’s behalf yesterday for the professional treatment he
received while in custody.

Tavares-Finson commented that even the
court was being fair to Coke, eliciting a brief smile from the resident
magistrate.

WORLDdudasSTORY

Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in a wig.
Photo: File