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'DUDUS' Coke has 30 days to prove to the court that the money which will be paid to his legal team is clean / Breaking News: No bail, but Dudus gets 30 days to finalise legal team / 'DUDUS' COKE plead

Christopher 'Dudus' Coke should in two months get his hands on some of the evidence that constitutes the legal arsenal of the United States government in its quest to convict him of drug smuggling and the trafficking of illegal guns.

Coke, a strongman who was toppled from his Tivoli Gardens throne by the Jamaica army and extradited last Thursday after a monthlong manhunt, will also have to prove that he can bankroll his preferred legal team from untain-ted funds.

Like his court hearing in Kingston last week, yesterday's session at a Manhattan federal court ran approximately 15 minutes.

Court-assigned attorney Russell Neufeld was accompanied by Coke's potential legal team - Frank Doddato, Steven Rosen and Nicholas Matassini - the latter telling The Gleaner that he would be the frontman of the defence triumvirate if Coke could present proof, in 30 days, that his money was clean.

Matassini said he was the lead counsel in the defence of Norris 'Deedo' Nembhard, a Jamaican who was extradited and convicted of drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges.

Dudus all but presidential

Though there were the standard security checks at the courthouse, there was little indication that this was the preliminary appearance of a man described by the United States as one of the world's most dangerous drug kingpins.

Coke, who is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre - a block away from the courthouse - entered the room in navy blue prison overalls, his slow, deliberate gait a contrast to the swagger of the one-time 'President', as he was known across Jamaica. He said nothing during the session.

Neufeld complained to Judge Robert Patterson, who presided over yesterday's hearing, that his client had not been granted permission to receive government documents that were crucial to the case. The judge set August 25 as the date for him, Coke's lawyers and prosecutors to conference. The evidence should be with his legal team before then.

Coke's next court hearing will be on September 7.

After yesterday's session, Doddato told The Gleaner "the ball is now in play", and that Coke was optimistic, despite the frustrations associated with his detention.

"He's a real gentleman, completely different from what has been reported in the media. He's in very good spirits.

"He's not happy with being segregated and he expressed his love for Jesus," Doddato said, adding that the legal team spent two hours with Coke on Sunday.

The calm vista seen through the windows of the 24th floor - of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the Manhattan Bridge in the distance - was worlds away from the high-rises of Tivoli which, last month was turned into a bloody battleground which claimed 74 lives.

Colourful support

The courthouse was not bereft of Jamaican flavour, as about 35 supporters of Coke, including friends and family, insisted - before and after the hearing - that their man was innocent.

One woman, who gave her name as Susan and claimed that she once lived in Tivoli, said she had stopped cooking to come to court because she has known Coke since he was a child.

"Justice is going to prevail. We a go support him to the end. God a go do it fi him. Good over evil, mi seh!" said the woman.

Most of Coke's supporters said they were from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and other sections of the Tristate Area.

Another friend of Susan's interrupted: "Di man have fi get a good lawyer. Prepaid lawyer nah go work," obviously in reference to fears that less-pricey state lawyers may handicap Coke's defence.

Even during the hearing there was a brief sideshow. As a thick silence hung in the courtroom at 4:05 p.m. EDT (3:05 p.m. Jamaica time) - the start time - it was broken by the shrill ring of a cellphone. A family member was quickly escorted out of the room.

When the hearing ended, a relative, who, like others, requested anonymity, said: "Them nah treat him right. Him cyaah get no visit. Them treating him like an animal. He has only been accused, not convicted, so why treat him like a criminal?"

Added an aunt: "He's my nephew and I support him. I know he's going to get through this trouble and trial. We not going to leave him. And I hope Jamaica supports him and stands by him."


A US judge on Monday did not grant bail to former Tivoli strongman, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

However, Coke has been given 30 days to conclude the details his legal representation and to prove that the money he will use to retain his lawyers is not from the proceeds of any alleged criminal activities.

Coke, who has a court appointed lawyer, appeared in court Monday with Judge Robert Patterson giving the defence 30 days to prepare a case and for him to finalize his legal representation.

He did not speak during the brief hearing which lasted for 15 minutes. The conditions of his solitary confinement were also discussed in the hearing.

His court appointed lawyer Russel Newfeld as well as government prosecutors also surveyed documents relating to the case.

Coke has the right to retain up to three lawyers.

Coke had last appeared in the Manhattan federal court in New York on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran a massive international drug and gun ring.


Former Tivoli Gardens strongman, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who was extradited to the United States from Jamaica, pleaded not guilty to drug and weapons charges in a New York courtroom Friday.

Dudus, or Prezie, as he is affectionately called, entered a full courtroom at 2:03 p.m. and acknowledged his few family members present with a nod. The judge greeted him with "Good afternoon, Mr. Coke," to which the seemingly calm Coke didn't respond. After entering his plea, Coke stood and answered "yes sir" to every question regarding understanding his indictments.

The court-assigned attorney told the judge he has not been permanently assigned to case because the Coke family hired attorneys Frank Doddato and Steven Rosen. Doddato is the lead attorney.

Coke was extradited Thursday, two days after he was taken into custody in Jamaica and several hours after he had waived his right to an extradition hearing there. Coke arrived at White Plains-Westchester County Airport outside New York City around 7 p.m.

Armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents and U.S. marshals escorted him to a waiting SUV. Coke was dressed in a blue shirt and black pants with his hands cuffed behind his back. He appeared subdued, a smirk on his face.

"I love the people of Jamaica," he said in response to a question from a Jamaican reporter.

Coke, 40, said in a statement that he decided to waive his right to an extradition hearing of his own free will, and did so "even though I am of the belief that my case would have been successfully argued in the courts of Jamaica."

According to a superseding indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, Coke has led a criminal organization known as the "Shower Posse" since the early 1990s, with members in the United States, Jamaica and other countries.

"At Coke's direction and under his protection, members of his criminal organization sold marijuana and crack cocaine in the New York area and elsewhere, and sent the narcotics proceeds back to Coke and his co-conspirators," the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said in a news release.

"Coke and his co-conspirators also armed their organization with illegally trafficked firearms," the release said.

Coke is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to illegally traffic in firearms. If convicted on the narcotics charge, he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million.

He would face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the firearms trafficking charge and a fine of up to $250,000.

Coke was arrested on Tuesday when Jamaican police recognized him at a checkpoint. He was wearing a woman's wig when he was caught, a federal law enforcement source told CNN.

Last month's failed attempt to arrest Coke sparked four days of gun battles between security forces and his supporters in Kingston that left 76 people dead.

Coke, who is also known as "President," "Shortman" and "General," said he was "deeply upset and saddened by the unnecessary loss of lives" and said the deaths "could have been avoided."

"Everyone, the whole country, has been adversely affected by the process that has surrounded my extradition and I hope that my action today will go some way towards healing all who have suffered and will be of benefit to the community of Tivoli Gardens," a neighborhood where violence erupted, he said Thursday.


Drug Enforcement Administration personnel bring alleged gangster Christopher Coke to a waiting vehicle at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, yesterday afternoon. - AP

Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, the alleged drug kingpin who enjoyed demigod status in the west Kingston stronghold of Tivoli Gardens, shared the fate of mortal man when he spent last night under armed guard on United States soil.

The 41-year-old arrived shortly after 6 p.m. (Jamaica time) at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, and was taken to a federal lock-up.

The strongman, who was captured by the police on Tuesday, was whisked out of Jamaica by plane at 2:05 p.m. yesterday, four hours after he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Coke was taken by heavily armed security personnel to the Norman Manley International Airport and placed in the custody of US Marshals who were waiting to escort him on to an unmarked aircraft.

Coke is escorted by law-enforcement agents towards a plane at the Norman Manley International Airport, moments before flying to the United States. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

The quickly organised departure of the man who was, up to a month ago, considered the most feared person in Jamaica brought an anti-climactic end to the mayhem that accompanied the extradition request from the United States in the summer of 2009.

Minutes after Coke signed the consent documents - indicating that he would not challenge his extradition - he was hit with a restraining order, freezing all his assets.

There was nothing defiant about Dudus' demeanour throughout the course of yesterday's historic proceedings.

Christopher Coke is led to court by soldiers at the police Mobile Reserve headquarters in Kingston.

"I have instructed my attorneys that I intend to waive my right to an extradition hearing in Jamaica and to proceed directly to the United States under the terms of the extradition laws and treaty between Jamaica and the United States of America," Dudus' attorney, George Soutar, quoted Coke in a statement to the court.

Later, Coke assured a probing Resident Magistrate (RM) Georgianna Fraser that he was fully aware of the ramifications of his decision.

After eluding the police for a month, the dragnet descended on Coke in less-than-spectacular fashion than the deadly gun battle that triggered a state of emergency in late May.

Christopher Coke speaks with Drug Enforcement Administration personnel at Kingston's Norman Manley Airport before being jetted away to the US. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

The dramatic challenge to the attempts of security personnel to apprehend Coke last month was absent yesterday, although the armed forces took no chances.

Gone was the bravado of Tivoli Gardens residents who demonstrated in support of Coke before barricading themselves into the community.

Vigilant policemen and soldiers searched vehicles on Industrial Terrace in that community during a consistent drizzle, as the time drew near for Coke to make his appearance in court.

The sound of a Jamaica Defence Force helicopter droned on and on as it hovered, while on the ground, security personnel cordoned the precincts of Up Park Camp and the Mobile Reserve.

Dudus seemed calm, oblivious to the buzz around him as he entered the court flanked by soldiers, but minus his attorneys, minutes before the scheduled start of the 10 o'clock hearing.

The aircraft carrying Christopher 'Dudus' Coke on its way to the US.

Attired in blue, striped shirt, guards towering over the 5' 4" captive who also bears the moniker 'Short Man', Dudus glanced around, before briefly nodding in acknowledgement of journalists.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn told RM Fraser, who presided over the hearing, that Coke's attorney had not yet reached court.

Fraser inquired of Coke who was his lawyer, to which Coke politely responded, "George Soutar."

As if on cue, Soutar entered the room with Tom Tavares-Finson, another attorney, in tow.

Soutar announced that Dudus had expressed a desire to waive his right to a local court hearing, before reading from a prepared text he attributed to Coke.

The attorney told the court that Coke said he had made the decision of his own free will even though he believed his case could have been successfully argued in the courts of Jamaica.

"I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of western Kingston and, in particular, the people of Tivoli Gardens and, above all, Jamaica," said Coke's statement.

Coke acknowledged that the entire country had been adversely affected by the bloodshed related to his extradition.

He said he hoped that his decision yesterday would help to heal the community of Tivoli Gardens, which the army stormed to uproot a militia, resulting in the deaths of one soldier and 73 civilians.

Tavares-Finson expressed appreciation on Coke's behalf yesterday for the professional treatment he received while in custody.

Tavares-Finson commented that even the court was being fair to Coke, eliciting a brief smile from the resident magistrate


It's official. Christopher 'Dudus' Coke has waived his rights to an extradition trial in Jamaica.

Authorities intend to take Coke to the United States by 3:00 pm today.

He was also served with a Restraint Order, which means that the State has frozen all his assets.

The extradition hearing which took 15 minutes, held at the Mobile Reserve along Camp Road in Kingston earlier this morning.

He was wearing a blue and white striped shirt, Clarks shoes and grey jeans pants, gold chain and white undershirt.

Nodding to reporters as he entered the courtroom about 9:55 am, Coke was escorted in without cuffs, accompanied by three policemen.

When he was heading to sign the consent form, he again looked up at reporters. The look on his face suggested he was now resigned to his fate, which his lawyer George Soutar confirmed to the Observer.

Soft-spoken, Coke said he understood that he will be facing trial in New York and confirmed that he wanted to waive his rights.

The signing of consent order took about five minutes.

His lawyers were Tom Tavares Finson and George Soutar.

After the hearing Coke was taken to a place called Red Fence on the Jamaica Defence Force Up Park Camp Headquarters where he will be held pending his extradition.

US representatives were also present in court. The only other persons allowed were press and local law enforcement officials

Resident Magistrate Georgianna Fraser presided.


HOURS before his extradition to the United States, former Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke asked Jamaicans to pray for him.

In a two-page typewritten statement issued through his lawyer Tom Tavares Finson, Coke said he was leaving with a heavy heart, but was convinced he would be “vindicated”.

“Pray for me and God bless Jamaica,” Coke said. “I leave Jamaica and my family, in particular Patsy [mother Pauline ‘Patsy’ Halliburton], with a heavy heart, but fully confident that in due course I will be vindicated and returned to them.”

He said he had taken the decision to waive his rights to an extradition trial “on my own free will and have done so even though I’m of the belief that my case would have been successfully argued in the court of Jamaica”.

“I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of West Kingston and in particular the people of Tivoli and above all Jamaica,” he said.

Coke will be taken to the United States today, where he faces drugs and gun-running charges.


KINGSTON (Reuters) – Alleged drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke was arrested by police on the outskirts of Kingston on Tuesday, peacefully ending a manhunt for the fugitive at the center of last month's deadly raids in the Jamaican capital.

Coke, 42, is wanted for extradition to the United States on drug and gun trafficking charges. Police said they arrested him without violence at a road checkpoint in the Portmore area of St. Catherine Parish.

Christopher "Dudus" coke, a notorious suspected Jamaican drug lord, is seen in this undated handout photo

Reuters – Christopher "Dudus" coke, a notorious suspected Jamaican drug lord, is seen in this undated …

Seventy-six people were killed in four days of gun battles last month when police and soldiers stormed the Tivoli Gardens slum in west Kingston in an attempt to take Coke into custody.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington declined to comment on reports Coke had been moved to army headquarters on Tuesday night.

"He appeared to be physically well and we will be preparing him to face the court as soon as possible," Ellington said.

Coke was on his way to surrender at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston when police stopped him at the checkpoint, according to a minister who accompanied him on Tuesday.

"The police searched the vehicle that I was in and they recognized him and held him," the Reverend Al Miller said.

Miller said Coke asked for his help in arranging the surrender at the embassy because he did not trust the police not to harm him if he surrendered to them.

"He also wanted to waive his right to an extradition hearing so that he could go to the U.S. for a trial," said Miller, a minister at the nondenominational Whole Life Ministry.

Dudus in wig when arrested

U.S. prosecutors have described Coke as the current leader of the "Shower Posse" that murdered hundreds of people during the cocaine wars of the 1980s.

Coke commanded a private militia and his supporters burned down two police stations and shot up four others in an attempt to prevent Coke's extradition during attacks that preceded last month's deadly raids.

Ellington, the police commissioner, lauded his men for the capture and urged them to be alert to potential threats from those sympathetic to Coke.

Ellington said he was uncertain whether Coke would be charged in Jamaica in connection with the deaths of two policemen and a soldier killed during last month's clashes.

Dudus clean shaven

"We are investigating all the attacks on our personnel and I am not in a position to make a definitive statement on that matter as yet," Ellington said.

He said the circumstances of Coke's capture were under investigation.

Miller, who has publicly opposed the United States' request to extradite Coke, was allowed to leave the police checkpoint after Coke was arrested, and Ellington said he was investigating why that was done.

Dudus placed in helmet by security forces

"The police are asking the Reverend Al Miller to immediately turn himself in at any police station along with his lawyer for questioning, as he is a major person of interest on a matter currently being investigated by the police," spokesman Karl Angell said.

If Coke waives his right to an extradition hearing, he could be sent directly to the United States for trial.

Coke was a strong supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and wielded powerful influence in the west Kingston slums. Jamaica initially refused to extradite him to New York for trial after his indictment last year, and the case had strained relations between the United States and Jamaica.


Former Tivoli strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke is now in police custody in Jamaica.

The Gleaner understands that he was held in the vicinity of Ferry on the Mandela Highway, on the border of St. Andrew and St.Catherine.

The businessman, who has been on the run since the Jamaican government signed an extradition request May 18, was accosted by the police.

The Gleaner understands that he was in the company of the Reverend Al Miller. Miller said he was carrying Coke in to the US Embassy in Liguanea when he was stopped by the police on the Mandela Highway.

The pastor has been instrumental in the surrender of Coke's sister Sandy and brother Leighton.

The one-month manhunt for Coke has stretched from inner city communities in West Kingston to upscale neighbourhoods in St. Andrew. Houses of past and present politicians have also been searched, as the quest to find Coke fanned out to rural communities in Manchester, St. Mary and St. Ann.

The Labour Day military assault on Coke's heavily barricaded Tivoli Gardens stronghold led to bloody clashes which claimed the life of one soldier and 73 civilians.

In their bid to find Coke the police also placed a $5 million bounty on his head.

Coke is wanted in the US on drug and gunrunning charges


Former Tivoli strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke is now in police custody in Jamaica.
The businessman, who has been on the run since the Jamaican government signed an extradition request May 18, was turned over to the police this afternoon.

The Gleaner understands the Reverend Al Miller facilitated his surrender about an hour and a half ago to the police.

The pastor has been instrumental in the surrender of Coke's sister Sandy and brother Leighton.

The one-month manhunt for Coke has stretched from inner city communities in West Kingston to upscale neighbourhoods in St. Andrew. Houses of past and present politicians have also been searched, as the quest to find Coke fanned out to rural communities in Manchester, St. Mary and St. Ann.

The Labour Day military assault on Coke's heavily barricaded Tivoli Gardens stronghold led to bloody clashes which claimed the life of one soldier and 73 civilians.

In their bid to find Coke the police also placed a $5 million bounty on his head.
Coke is wanted in the US on drug and gunrunning charges.

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Comment by Lady M on June 22, 2010 at 6:44pm
You can run but you can't hide.....what's in the dark must come to light, my Grandmother's advice

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