Jamaica’s capitol city of Kingston was on high alert on Monday after armed gangs firebombed a police station and spread civil unrest after the attempt to arrest reputed gangster Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who is wanted in the United States on drug and arms trafficking charges.
Two police officers were killed on Sunday and six others injured in the violence.
The Caribbean nation’s government declared a state of emergency when supporters of Coke, 41, tried to thwart his arrest by turning the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood into an armed fortress, the Associated Press reported. Police said scores of gangs carrying heavy firepower came from across the island to fight authorities in West Kingston.
The violence came after tensions grew over Coke’s possible extradition to the United States. The extradition was originally blocked by Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding because it relied on wiretap evidence said to be illegal. After Golding reversed his position, Coke’s supporters barricaded the streets and armed themselves.
But Coke’s alleged criminal activity may belie his mass popularity in Jamaica. He is reportedly a partner in several enterprises and also heads an entertainment company that organizes the popular “Champions in Action” concert show and the ‘Passa Passa’ street party. But U.S. Justice Department officials say that Coke is one of the most dangerous criminals in the world, leading a gang that has been involved in drug related violence in Jamaica and the U.S. If convicted on drug charges, he faces a life sentence.
Despite a current lull in the shooting in Kingston and its neighboring parishes, a state of emergency is still in effect.