Explosions in Jamaica As Cops, Troops Move In On Accused Drug Lord Christopher Coke

Coke's posse operated out of the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in West Kingston, which the indictment described as a garrison community, "a barricaded neighborhood guarded by a group of armed gunmen."

The indictment also alleged, however, that the Shower Posse hd a presence in "other areas of Jamaica, and in other countries, including the United States." At Coke's direction, Shower Posse members allegedly sent firearms back to Jamaica, which has one of the highest murder rates in the Western Hemisphere.

Coke's "power and influence" the indictment charged, enabled him to protect his posse as it shipped dope to New York and weapons to Jamaica. Coke's alleged ties to Jamaica's prime minister and ruling party have been a major factor influencing the US inability to extradite him in the past.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding had resisted the U.S. extradition request for more than eight months, claiming that the U.S. had used illegal wiretap evidence to secure an indictment. The U.S. indictment refers to numerous phone calls in which Coke allegedly discusses the shipment and sale of drugs and weapons.

Golding was criticized by the political opposition in March for allegedly hiring a lobbying firm in the U.S. to fight the extradition of Coke. Lobbying documents show that the Jamaican government did hire a firm to lobby the U.S. over the treaty dispute. Golding later admitted that he approved the hiring of the firm, but said the effort was on behalf of his political party and not the government.

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He apologized to the Jamaican public in a TV address on May 17, and announced that the Minister of Justice would sign extradition papers.

"I should never have allowed it," said Golding, "but I must accept responsibility for it and express my remorse to the nation."

In his statement, Golding said the Jamaican government had never refused to extradite Coke, but had "simply asked the U.S. authorities to provide additional information."

After Golding said the extradition would move forward, Tivoli Gardens began girding for battle.

In Jamaica, the two main political parties are often accused of being allied with the gangs that control different neighborhoods. The Jamaica Labour Party is accused of alliances with gangs on the west side of the capital city. Golding, who heads the Jamaica Labour Party, is a member of Parliament from West Kingston. His district includes Tivoli Gardens, and Tivoli Gardens is said to be a JLP neighborhood.

Additional reporting by Fitzroy Prendergast

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