Jamaica: Gangsters blocking roads and shooting police to prevent extradition of drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Parts of Kingston remain under a state of emergency
Violence in Jamaica surrounding the planned extradition to the U.S. of a suspected drug kingpin continued Monday, with shots fired at police officers as they sought to clear roads in Kingston, police said. Residents have blocked roads, primarily in West Kingston, to restrict access to police and military. The violence then spread about 20 minutes outside the capital to Spanish Town, where armed thugs blocked a major road and a bridge that serves as a link between Montego Bay and Kingston, police said. Looting occurred in downtown Kingston.
There were no immediate reports of casualties Monday, but two police officers were killed and six others were wounded in a shooting late Sunday near Norman Manley International Airport outside Kingston, police said.
The airport’s main entrance remained open, and flights were arriving and departing on schedule, said Paul Hall, senior vice president for operations at the Airports Authority of Jamaica.
The unrest revolves around U.S. attempts to extradite suspected drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who was charged last year in federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine and with conspiracy to traffic in firearms illegally.
Coke’s whereabouts were not made public. His attorneys were to meet with the charge d’affaires officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. Coke’s attorney Don Foote said he will listen to U.S. authorities but insisted his client should face any charges in Jamaican courts. On Friday, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said citizens should “allow the courts to deal with the extradition matter,” the state-run Jamaica Information Service reported.
In a statement Sunday afternoon, Golding announced an emergency meeting of his Cabinet in response to the heavy gunfire and blockades, the Jamaica Information Service said.
A state of emergency extended to the St. Andrew section of Kingston, according to the information agency. The U.S. State Department is “monitoring the situation closely,” a spokesman said Sunday evening. Coke was charged in August 2009 by the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, which accused him of leading an international criminal syndicate known as the “Shower Posse.”
“At Coke’s direction and under his protection, members of his criminal organization sell marijuana and crack cocaine in the New York area and elsewhere, and send the narcotics proceeds back to Coke and his co-conspirators,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said in a release accompanying the charges. “Coke and his co-conspirators also arm their organization with illegally trafficked firearms,” the DEA said in a statement at the time.
Coke is on the Justice Department’s list of Consolidated Priority Organization Targets, which the department says “includes the world’s most dangerous narcotics kingpins.”