31 killed in Jamaican bid to arrest alleged drug lord

By buseman · May 26, 2010 · Updated May 26, 2010 · ·
  1. buseman
    THIRTY-ONE PEOPLE, 28 of them civilians and three members of the security forces, have been killed in Jamaica in violence triggered by government moves to extradite an alleged drug lord to the US, police said yesterday.

    The security forces had for a second day traded gunfire with gangs defending Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who is resisting extradition to the US on charges of drug-trafficking and gun-running.

    At least two policemen and one soldier were killed as army personnel and police engaged in house-to-house firefights against armed supporters of Mr Coke in Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston. The troops, who were supported by helicopter gunships as they moved through the community, failed to capture Mr Coke.

    The assault on the enclave followed the government’s declaration of a limited state of emergency in the capital after Mr Coke failed to turn himself in. The government signed an extradition request from Washington after hesitating for several months, alleging that evidence had been obtained by the US through illegal wiretaps.

    The city became tense a week ago after prime minister Bruce Golding, in whose constituency Tivoli Gardens is located, announced a state of emergency for four weeks. He said the country needed to “confront powers of evil” in the district.

    Several hundred of its residents staged street protests against the extradition of Mr Coke, saying he was a legitimate businessman who supported the community and had done nothing wrong.

    Heavy equipment was used by state forces to clear roadblocks erected by gangs around Tivoli Gardens. Police then sealed roads to prevent criminals escaping, a senior police officer said.

    Residents of the district told local radio stations they were caught in the crossfire and were unable to leave the area. Some spoke of bombs being detonated and of bodies lying in the streets.

    The police said the heavily armed gangs were using women and children as human shields against the security forces, and were being sent to retrieve weapons from gunmen who had been shot.

    We are after ‘Dudus’, but we will also have to clean the gangs out of the community and recover their guns, added the senior police officer.

    The US says Mr Coke is the leader of the “Shower Posse” gang that has murdered hundreds of people in the US in wars over the control of drug-trafficking.

    Although the violence is concentrated in Tivoli Gardens, the police reported yesterday that there have been several shooting incidents in other sections of Kingston and in neighbouring Spanish Town.

    Commercial activity in the city was limited yesterday, with most schools closed. Airlines cancelled some flights into Kingston, although the country’s two international airports remained open. The West Indies Cricket Board was contemplating whether it should go ahead with cricket matches between the West Indies and South Africa, which are due to begin in Kingston next week, or move them to another island.

    The island’s vital tourism sector was already being affected by cancellations, according to Wayne Cummings, Hotel and Tourist Association president.

    Jamaica has been troubled for years by a high rate of violent crime. The police reported that 1,680 people were murdered last year – 62 more than in 2008 – on an island with a population of 2.7 million. Gang-related murders accounted for 52 per cent of the deaths.

    The country recently received $1.3 billion (€1.05 billion) in support from the International Monetary Fund to help it overcome the impact of global recession. –

    CANUTE JAMES in Kingston
    Wednesday, May 26, 2010



  1. chillinwill
    Coke: Why A Jamaican Drug Dealer Is More Popular Than The Government

    At least 60 people are reported dead in Jamaica, where police and security forces are battling supporters of alleged drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who is resisting a U.S. extradition request.

    Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said “The government deeply regrets the loss of lives of members of the security forces, and those of innocent law abiding citizens who were caught in the crossfire.” Glenmore Hinds, the deputy police commissioner, has said.
    “You must realize we are fighting a war.”

    The carnage erupted when police and security forces attempted to execute the extradition request for Coke, signed by Jamaican Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne. The attorney general did so at the behest of Prime Minister Golding, under pressure coming from Washington. The prime minister at first resisted the order declaring that Washington obtained wiretapping evidence through questionable means.

    A state of emergency was declared Sunday after followers of Coke, 40, built blockades in the Tivoli Gardens area, a section of Kingston, Jamaica’s capitol. Tivoli Garden, part of Kingston’s west side, is a neighborhood where Coke is revered as a hero; he provides many services for the impoverished community. The United States government maintains that Coke is “one of the world’s most dangerous drug lords.”

    He is wanted for alleged drug trafficking and gun smuggling. Coke is the reputed leader of the Jamaican Shower Posse, a gang blamed for over 1,000 murders in the 1980’s. Coke is said to have taken over the reins of the group once held by his father, Lester Coke.
    The elder Coke’s death, in 1992, is shrouded in political intrigue. He died in a suspicious fire in his jail cell, on the same day he was to be extradited to the U.S. Ironically, it was also the day another son, Mark Coke, was buried--he had been shot a couple of weeks earlier.

    Besides the dead, the current standoff has injured scores and over 500 people have been detained. Police and security forces have, reportedly, seized high-powered weapons, bullet-proof vests and army fatigues.
    The government said security forces are “processing” detainees, starting with students and young people. They claim “the security forces are also helping residents of Tivoli Gardens, taking those needing medical care to hospitals.”

    Prime Minister olding also angrily denied media reports he functioned as “a known criminal affiliate” of Coke. Pointing the finger at ABC News and the U.K.'s The Independent newspaper, he called the reports “scurrilous” and “libelous.” He said attempts to link him to the drug-lord “were clearly part of a conspiracy to undermine the duly elected government of Jamaica.”

    Perhaps, we should start by asking what “government of Jamaica?”
    Realistically, the Jamaican people, like so many Africans in the Diaspora and the Motherland, are plagued by charlatans posing as leaders. For decades, Jamaicans have been betrayed by these pretenders ruining their country.
    Jamaica has one of the world’s highest murder per capita rates in the world. That violence, along with the current catastrophe, is a direct result of the corrupt and inept politicians holding sway.

    Golding's denials don’t discount the fact that the Shower Posse has been connected to his Jamaica Labour Party, JLP. Another Jamaican gang, The Spangler Posse, has been linked to Jamaica’s other party: the People’s National Party, PNP. In fact, some claim these gangs have been used to settle scores.

    It's even been proposed that gangsters connected to the JLP were behind the Dec 3, 1976 attempted murder of Bob Marley. That failed assassination was likely intended to stop Marley from performing at the historic Dec 5, 1976 “Smile Jamaica” concert organized to ease warring tensions between political parties. Marley, along with his wife, Rita, and manager Don Taylor were all wounded, but survived. Marley performed two day later in the blood stained shirt he was shot in. Later, he recorded the song “Ambush in the Night.” Political violence was no doubt also behind the murder of promising political poet Michael Smith. Smith was murdered after an August 17, 1983 rally in which he criticized a Jamaica Labour Party official.

    Reportedly, oke controlled a Kingston wharf where he conducted his smuggling activities. Are we to believe he controlled an alleged multi-million dollar operation without the help of Jamaican government officials? Are we also to believe that these drugs just make their way to the United States without collaborators in the U.S.? Christopher Coke surely knows the answer to these questions--one legitimate question is, will he make it alive to the U.S. even if he were to surrender or be aprehended?

    Some marvel at the fact this man has a community of people willing to die for him. This isn’t strange. People will defend those that feed them. This situation speaks volumes, regarding the Jamaican government’s failure to provide basic necessities for their people.

    This tragedy is further an instructive example of why the criminalization of drugs is an abject failure. It is the criminalization of drugs that have made it a lucrative market, especially for those mired in poverty. Question: why is it governments have unlimited resources to fight drug trafficking, but can’t find money to feed people?

    Jamaicans must reshape their destiny by becoming involved in the political process creating, if necessary, alternative parties. Plato once said “Those who’re too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

    We must also contextualize the crisis in Jamaica within the larger problems facing African peoples the world over.

    By Colin Benjamin
    May 27, 2010
  2. enquirewithin
    As usual the US provokes violence and murder in other countries.

    Jamaican unrest toll rises: Residents have accused security forces of firing indiscriminately during four-day assault.

    Jamaican police have said that at least 73 bodies have been found in morgues, some in a state of decomposition, after a four-day-old assault in the capital Kingston.

    Most of the dead are civilians, some who were reported to be unarmed, as security forces battled to arrest Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, an alleged drug kingpin, in his slum stronghold - Tivoli Gardens.

    Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker, reporting from Tivoli Gardens, said on Friday that gunmen had fled and left behind a traumatised neighbourhood that had been under siege since Sunday.

    Residents accused security forces of firing indiscriminately in recent days.

    Slum dwellers were seething with anger at Jamaica's security forces' house-to-house searches for Coke, with the death toll rising but no trace of the operation's target.

    Heaps of sometimes smouldering garbage littered the streets of western Kingston, a world away from Jamaica's world-famous beaches, as security forces searched for Coke, who is wanted by the US on drug charges.

    Outside one ramshackle apartment, a woman who said she had been inside for two days pushed aside with a rake the rotting body of a cat she found at her doorstep.

    "What we need is money and food," Marlene, a middle-aged woman, said.

    "Coke, he take care the community. Not the soldiers, they just shoot."

    Government officials have refused to discuss Coke's whereabouts.

    "Our best information is that he was not arrested. His whereabouts we cannot tell you," Glenroy Hinds, deputy commissioner of police, said.

    Daryl Vaz, the information minister, said that the government was "very concerned" about accusations of mistreatment of civilians and would post a public defender permanently in the affected area to hear complaints.

    Hinds said the lines between civilians and combatants had become blurry, saying civilians were "sometimes also gunmen and gunwomen."

    Investigation pending

    Amnesty International appealed for a thorough investigation, saying that Jamaican police had a "dire" human rights record and had often carried out unlawful killings in the past.

    Walker said that due to the fact that only found 6 weapons were found and Coke was still at large, authorities were having difficulty explaining the high loss of civilian life.

    Earl Witter, the public defender, said: " I am troubled by the apparent dis-proportionality about the amount of weapons and material recovered and the number of people who died."

    As the search for Coke continues, authorities said that they were now looking into reports of police misconduct and that an independent investigation would be held.

    The US has strongly supported the operation and provided bulletproof vests to Jamaican security forces, concerned about the island's role as a conduit for drugs.

    In Washington, the US pledged $45m for a new partnership called the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to work together to fight drug-traffickers and other transnational criminal gangs.

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