Support for crime boss 'Dudas' Coke still strong in Jamaica
'Dudas' Coke reportedly helped poor people in his neighborhood pay for food and school fees, making him wildly popular despite international charges of brutality, writes guest blogger Hannah Stone.
• A version of this post ran on the author's site, Insightcrime.com. The views expressed are the author's own.Skip to next paragraph
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As the case against Christopher "Dudus" Coke drags on, with his sentencing delayed for the fourth time, reactions from Jamaica give an insight into the complex nature of the power wielded by him and other crime dons.
After a long struggle to capture "Dudus" Coke, the Jamaican drug boss was extradited to the US in June 2010. He made a deal with the authorities, pleading guilty to drug trafficking and assault charges in August, avoiding a possible life sentence. The prosecution asked for him to be given the maximum sentence of 23 years, arguing that he had committed horrifically violent acts, including cutting one victim to pieces with a chainsaw. On Friday, however, a New York judge ruled that prosecutors needed to produce more evidence to back their claims. There will be another hearing in May, with sentencing to follow on a later date, reported Reuters.
The news was greeted with euphoria by Coke supporters outside the court, according to the Jamaica Gleaner, with relatives and friends telling reporters that the delay was due to divine intervention.
There is still support and sympathy for Coke from some in Tivoli Gardens, the territory in west Kingston where his Shower Posse gang is based. A Jamaica Gleaner video report before the sentencing shows residents professing support for the jailed gang boss and calling on the judge for leniency, arguing that he had done good things for people in the community. One resident said that Coke had only committed his crimes in order to get money to help local people. The newspaper reported that many Coke supporters did not wish to be filmed, fearing reprisals from the police.
The Associated Press spoke to Kingston locals who said the area was far less safe than when the drug lord ruled over it, and called for his return. A group of residents signed a petition that was submitted to the judge, listing Coke’s good deeds in the community and appealing for leniency.