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May 24, 2010
State of Emergency in Jamaica's Capital
Jamaica is in crisis, as its capital city Kingston is experiencing shootings and fire bombings of police stations, as streets have been barricaded in an effort to resist the government's attempt to extradite eponymous drug lord Charles "Dudus" Coke to the United Sates to face cocaine trafficking charges.
The situation is far more complicated than merely a drug charge, as gangsters have become de facto local rulers in sections of Kingston. AT's David Paulin has been covering the confrontation over Coke and its background in two recent articles, Obama's Fruitless Quest to Extradite Drug Thug and Obama's Lesson in Realpolitik. As he explained last Friday:
The epicenter of the gathering storm is Kingston's gritty Tivoli Gardens area -- longtime home to an alleged drug lord named Christopher Michael Coke, 41, who is wanted by U.S. authorities. There, in what some call a "state within a state," Coke and his gunmen have for years operated with minimum harassment from the police -- thanks to loose ties with political leaders and fierce loyalties they've cultivated with poor residents.Now, anticipating a raid by security forces, Coke and his gunmen have reportedly thrown up barricades booby trapped with gasoline-filled canisters, barbed wire, and live electrical wires. They're heavily armed -- ready for a flight as police attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Coke. Backed up by these gunmen, Coke has ruled this section of West Kingston for years, serving as a "community leader" by providing an ad hoc if not thuggish government for poor residents.The showdown comes after Jamaica on Monday finally signed a extradition request from the United States for Coke -- after stonewalling the Obama administration for months and voicing concerns over Coke's "constitutional rights." As an American Thinker article reported last March, Jamaica's political leaders claimed American law enforcement authorities had violated Coke's rights with wiretaps and the use of unnamed witnesses -- all cited in an indictment unsealed last August by the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. However, the more likely reason for the extradition standoff was that Jamaica's political leaders were protecting Coke. They had much to lose by extraditing him.