Jamaican Drug Lord Wanted in NY Captured

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A powerful Jamaican gang leader sought by U.S authorities to face drug conspiracy charges in New York has been captured.

    Sources tell NBCNewYork that Christopher "Dudus" Coke was taken into custody Tuesday in Jamaica. 

    In a 2007 federal indictment unsealed last year in Manhattan, Coke was charged with running the Shower Posse, which shuttled cocaine, pot and guns between Jamaica and New York starting in 1994.

    Violence erupted last month over tensions surrounding the possible extradition of Coke to the United States, where he faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

    He leads one of the gangs that control politicized slums known as "garrisons." Political parties created the gangs in the 1970s to rustle up votes. The gangs have since turned to drug trafficking, but each remains closely tied to a political party. Coke's gang is tied to the governing Labor Party.

    The U.S. State Department said it was "the responsibility of the Jamaican government to locate and arrest Mr. Coke."

    Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara praised Jamaican authorities for making the arrest and spoke of the partnership ahead.

    "We look forward to working closely with the Jamaican authorities to bring Coke to justice to face charges pending against him in Manhattan federal court," Bharara said in a statement.

    In May, security forces battled bold attacks by masked gangsters loyal to appropriately-named crime boss -- and some three dozen people died in the battles.

    Kingston streets outside the battle zones were mostly empty, schools and numerous businesses were closed, hospitals offered only emergency services and the government appealed for donations of blood. The government on Sunday implemented a monthlong state of emergency.

    The violence did not spill into the capital's wealthier neighborhoods, but gangs from slums just outside the capital have joined the fight, erecting barricades on roadways and shooting at troops.

    West Kingston, which includes the Trenchtown slum where reggae superstar Bob Marley was raised, was the epicenter of the violence.

    The drug trade is deeply entrenched in Jamaica, which is the largest producer of marijuana in the region and where gangs have become powerful organized crime networks involved in international gun smuggling. It fuels one of the world's highest murder rates; the island of 2.8 million people had about 1,660 homicides in 2009.