Jamaican Christopher Coke admits to drug, racketeering crimes

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 31, 2011 6:08 PM
Jamaican Christopher Coke admits to drug, racketeering crimes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Accused Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke pleaded guilty in a New York court on Wednesday to racketeering charges more than a year after a manhunt to capture the fugitive sparked deadly gun battles.

Coke, 42, was arrested in Jamaica in June last year after a five-week manhunt that began when police and soldiers stormed slums in the country's capital Kingston in an attempt to take him into custody.

Seventy-six people were killed in four days of gun battles sparked by the raids.

Coke was a strong supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labor Party and wielded powerful influence in the west Kingston slums. Jamaica initially refused to extradite him and the case had strained relations between the United States and Jamaica.

He was extradited to New York on marijuana, cocaine and firearms trafficking charges in June last year and pleaded guilty Wednesday in Manhattan federal court to one racketeering conspiracy count and count of conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering.

Coke, in a blue prison uniform, admitted to running the Presidential Click, a Kingston, Jamaica-based crime group that trafficked guns, cocaine and marijuana between Jamaica and the United States.

"I also ordered the purchase of firearms and the importation of those firearms into Jamaica in furtherance of this conspiracy," Coke told U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson.

Coke faces a term of up to 23 years in prison at his December 8 sentencing.

The case is USA v. Gray et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York 07-00971.

(Reporting by Basil Katz, editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)