An alleged drug lord targeted in a Jamaican government raid which kicked off urban warfare in that nation’s capital may be ready to surrender to U.S. officials in New York, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities said on May 26 that Christopher Coke may have fled the island nation following the raid and may have begun negotiating his surrender with U.S. officials. According to the AP, Coke could be in custody in Manhattan by the end of the Memorial Day weekend.
According to the AP¸ sources close to Coke said he “feels it is in his best interest to be taken to the U.S., rather than to a Jamaican jail.”
Coke, 41, the alleged leader of the “Shower Posse” gang, apparently began stockpiling weapons to defend himself last August when the U.S. first ordered his extradition for drug trafficking.
Police and soldiers led a door-to-door hunt in the Tivoli Gardens slums of Kingston, Jamaica in search of Coke during the week of May 24, but came up empty-handed. That search, however, ignited four days of fighting which has killed at least 76 people, according to the AP.
A U.S. indictment alleges that Coke assembled a gun arsenal allegedly smuggled in by American gang members. The U.S. Department of Justice lists him as one of the most dangerous drug kingpins in the world.
“We support the bold steps taken by the government of Jamaica to enforce the rule of law, protect its democracy, and combat the destabilizing effects of drug trafficking and related criminal activity,” Virginia Staab, a State Department spokeswoman, said according to BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Also referred to as “general” and “president,” Coke allegedly relied on gunmen to maintain his control of Tivoli Gardens. The last time police attempted to gain control of the impoverished area was in 2001, when gunfire between the opposing forces left 25 civilians, a soldier and a constable dead. After receiving subtle messages from gang members to keep out, police have made few attempts to enter since then.
“The situation at Tivoli is dreadful, but it’s been something that’s been simmering for a long, long time,” said Susan Goffe, spokeswoman for local human rights group Jamaicans for Justice, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com. “And everybody knew that if they made the move for Coke that there would be trouble.”