Jamaican drug lord 'Dudus' Coke pleads guilty. Why did his arrest take so long?
While Coke's plea wraps up a long pursuit by US and Jamaican authorities, an examination of the efforts to prosecute him implicate several parties – including Jamaican officials and a US law firm.
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Instead, the commission focuses on Golding's understanding that Coke was in the "construction business" and that he had, in Golding's words, received "many, many contracts" from the Jamaican government.Skip to next paragraph
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Nothing more about these contracts is mentioned, although it appears to be an obvious line of inquiry for the commission and judicial authorities in Jamaica wondering how Coke and his colleagues, who presumably still operate in Tivoli Gardens, launder their earnings.
What's more, after the US requested Coke's extradition in August 2009, Jamaica's Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General's Office (which are run by the same person), and the Solicitor General's Office began what appeared to be a systematic government-wide effort to stall.
Specifically, they began looking for ways in which the request violated Jamaica's constitution and pushing, via diplomatic channels, for an alternative. All of this was most likely done with Golding's knowledge, but both Golding and these government officials deny having any communication about the matter. The one piece of evidence obtained by the commission that suggests otherwise (a handwritten note titled "Michael Coke" to be typed into email and sent to the solicitor general) was deemed "incomplete."
These initial efforts did not work, and by September 2009 there was growing friction between the two governments over the Coke extradition request. That same month, a Labour Party consultant named Harold Brady visited Golding and advised him that the government should seek legal help in the United States. In October, Brady, acting on behalf of the Jamaican government, signed a contract with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (MPP), a law firm with offices in Washington and New York City, among other places.
The initial payment for services was $50,000, according to the commission's report. The source of the money was never revealed, as Brady refused to testify in front of the commission, but there was speculation that it came from Coke himself.
MPP representatives told the commission that it spent the next several months lobbying the United States government to drop the extradition request, with the idea that it was working with the Jamaican government. Golding and the Jamaican government say Brady was acting for the Labour Party.
In one of many comic episodes of the commission's investigation, MPP refused to testify, stating that it would have to be released by its client, the Jamaican government, to do so. But since the Jamaican government does not accept that it hired MPP, it would not authorize any MPP actions.
Meanwhile, tension between the governments continued to rise until May 2010, when the government suddenly changed its stance. The ministries all fell in line, the extradition order was signed, and Coke's Shower Posse barricaded themselves into Tivoli Gardens for a prolonged battle that left dozens dead and untold amounts of property damage.
The fallout from this case continues in Jamaica. A May-June poll commissioned by the Jamaica Gleaner shows a complete lack of trust in the government: just 12 percent believed Golding told the truth to the commission; 8 percent thought his justice minister (Dorothy Lightbourne) did, with 15 percent saying they believed she had deliberately misled the public.