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Dudus Coke in custody, Jamaica focuses on keeping peace

Jamaica captured alleged drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke on Tuesday. The country extended a state of emergency to give security forces more time to ensure calm after riots last month by Dudus loyalists.

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Coke was charged last year by the US attorney's office in New York as leading the “Shower Posse,” a group responsible for the deaths of hundreds during the cocaine trade wars of the 1980s. Jamaica, whose politics is deeply intertwined with gangs in slums, had refused US requests to extradite Coke for months. But under pressure at home and in the US, Prime Minister Bruce Golding shifted course last month.

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Mr. Ellington told reporters that officials will take “every step possible to ensure his safety and well-being whilst he is in our custody.” He said authorities are moving forward with extradition as soon as possible.

The Rev. Al Miller, an evangelical preacher who was with Coke at the time of his arrest, told local radio that Coke was en route to turn himself into the US embassy Tuesday when he was stopped by police at a checkpoint.

Coke is widely popular within Jamaica for the Robin Hood-like figure he has struck in poor communities, including handing out food and sending poor kids to school, not unlike Pablo Escobar in Colombia's Medellin. But he is Jamaica´s No. 1 fugitive and was the focus of a month-long search across the country. The US has repeatedly characterized him as one of the most dangerous criminals operating.

"He is the head of an organization, a cartel, or a syndicate that has a global impact and also has a direct impact on the United States," Michael Braun, a former chief of operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, was quoted as saying on CNN.