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Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke faces sentencing in US case

DEA agents bring Jamaican gang leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke From Westchester County Airport to a waiting vehicle, Thursday, June 24, 2010, in White Plains, New York. (AP Photo/David Karp)
DEA agents bring Jamaican gang leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke from Westchester County Airport to a waiting vehicle, Thursday, June 24, 2010, in White Plains, New York. AP Photo/David Karp

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke is scheduled to be sentenced this week in federal court in Manhattan after pleading guilty last year to racketeering and assault charges.

Pictures: Christopher "Dudus" Coke

Coke, who U.S. authorities say is so ruthless that he once ordered a rival killed with a chainsaw, faces up to 23 years in prison.

Coke was captured in 2010 in Jamaica during a bloody siege of his ghetto stronghold that left more than 70 dead. At the time, he waived extradition to the United States and vowed to fight drug trafficking, gun smuggling, racketeering and other charges.

The 43-year-old Coke has sought mercy in a letter to the judge, but prosecutors have argued that leniency isn't an option. They want Coke to serve the maximum term and be deported.

Coke was a divisive figure in Jamaica, where he followed in the footsteps of his father, Lester Lloyd Coke, better known as Jim Brown, a leader of the notorious Shower Posse during the 1980s cocaine wars. Authorities say he took over the organization when his father, also sought in the United States, died in a mysterious fire in a Jamaican prison cell in 1992.

Once in power, Coke became a folk hero to some followers in the West Kingston slum of Tivoli Gardens. He listed his good deeds in his letter to the judge - throwing Easter parties for seniors, passing out school supplies and Christmas gifts to children and starting a school to teach computer skills to the disadvantaged.

The court has received other letters of support from Jamaica. One man described how "Dudus" started youth soccer leagues, paid medical bills for sick neighbors and even helped children with their homework. The letter says, "Peace is the answer," was his constant message.

This apparent altruism won Coke loyalty and political clout in Tivoli Gardens, which federal prosecutors call in court papers "a garrison community" patrolled by Coke's young henchmen armed with illegal weapons bought on the black market in the United States and smuggled into Jamaica. The enforcers' job included guarding stash houses, punishing anyone who challenged Coke's monopoly on the drug trade and using intimidation to influence elections, the papers said.

Anyone who crossed Coke was detained and subjected to harsh punishments. One person accused of thievery "was brought to the 'jail,' tied down and killed by Coke with a chainsaw," the court papers say.

In the U.S., Coke controlled a network of large-scale drug dealers who would send him "tribute" payments of cash, electronics, or guns, court papers say.

Prosecutors also allege Coke relied on women to smuggle cocaine - concealed in condoms and inserted into their vaginas - into the United States on commercial flights to New York City or Miami. One woman who refused to do it was gang-raped and murdered, the court papers say.

Several women abused by Coke's gang in Jamaica have written to the sentencing judge asking him to give the defendant a harsh punishment. They've also insisted on anonymity.

"I might be targeted for death by the Shower Posse if this letter is brought to the public record," one woman wrote. "But this letter is my contribution to Jamaica and the Jamaicans for their future."

Complete coverage of Christopher Coke on Crimesider


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