Wanted Jamaican druglord captured

June 23, 2010 12:00 am

, KINGSTON, Jun 23 – Christopher "Dudus" Coke, a Jamaican alleged druglord wanted to face trial in the United States, was captured on Tuesday, after a manhunt sparked bloodshed last month, police said.

"The security forces wish to confirm reports that Christopher Lloyd Coke, for whom police is holding a warrant of arrest regarding extradition proceedings, was arrested this afternoon," police commissioner Owen Ellington said.

Local church leader Reverend Al Miller earlier told reporters he "helped in the process to hand over Coke." Ellington said police wanted to interview Miller.

The church leader has helped in negotiations to ease tensions after a nearly week-long assault last month on a slum to capture Coke left 73 dead and divided the island nation.

Jamaican police backed by troops descended on Coke\’s stronghold of the impoverished Tivoli Gardens slum last month seeking to arrest him.

Coke is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges, but he is also hailed by many residents as a Robin Hood figure who offers security and small-time jobs on some of the world\’s toughest streets.

"I would like to appeal to the families, friends and sympathizers of Christopher Coke to remain calm and to allow the law to take its course," the police commissioner said.

"We would also like to reassure the country that we will continue our efforts to defeat organized crime and to restore law and order in this country while, at the same time, turning around the crime and security situation," Ellington stressed.

Despite heavy security, house-to-house searches and a bloody shootout between security forces and armed Coke supporters, he managed to evade capture, amid rumours that he was either being sheltered on the island or had fled.

Ellington had pledged a thorough investigation of all allegations and vowed to find Coke.

But the unrest which saw the government declare a state of emergency left downtown Kingston deserted for days, and trapped many people in their homes with no food and water, as gun battles raged on the capital\’s streets.

Pictures of decaying corpses, masked gunmen and a fugitive drug don were a blow to Jamaica\’s tourist image and home of late reggae star Bob Marley.

Kingston has long had the dubious distinction of being one of the world\’s murder capitals, and most tourists simply pass through the airport heading for its renowned beaches especially on the north coast.

Tourism has been one bright spot in the economy since the island gained independence from Britain in 1962. After a slowdown during the financial crisis, Jamaica welcomed more than 200,000 tourists in March for the first time over a one-month period, according to the Tourism Board.

In 2009, more than 1.8 million tourists visited Jamaica, which itself is home to only 2.8 million people, according to the board\’s figures.



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