Jamaican Drug Lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke Pleads Guilty

Attempt to arrest Coke in Kingston sparked urban war.

August 31, 2011, 5:05 PM

Aug. 31, 2011 — -- Jamaican drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke pleaded guilty today in a Manhattan court, ending an international anti-drug operation that started last May with an all out urban war in Kingston that killed scores of Jamaicans.

Coke is the leader of the Jamaica-based international criminal organization "Shower Posse", also known as the "Presidential Click". Indicted by the U.S. in 2009, Coke became the target of a massive Jamaican police operation in May 2010, sparking a bloody street battle between local security forces and Coke's gun-toting supporters and mercenaries in the west Kingston neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens.

After a month of violent struggle, it was a popular local preacher that managed to arrange Coke's peaceful surrender to authorities. At the time of his surrender, Coke said that he chose to accept extradition rather than watch the bloodshed in Jamaica continue. More than 70 people had already died in the violence.

Coke's extradition created tension between the Jamaican government and the U.S. Initially, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding fought the extradition but, after facing criticism at home and abroad, he relented.

Golding, who represents Tivoli Gardens in Parliament, was accused of having strong links to the drug dealer.

Coke pleaded guilty today to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.

"For nearly two decades, Christopher Coke led a ruthless criminal enterprise that used fear, force and intimidation to support its drug and arms trafficking 'businesses.' He moved drugs and guns between Jamaica and the United States with impunity," U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said. "Today's plea is a welcome conclusion to this ugly chapter of criminal history."

Coke is scheduled to be sentenced Dec.8 when he could face up to 20 years in prison and deportation back to Jamaica.

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