Jamaican drug kingpin pleads guilty

Two weeks before his scheduled trial for alleged racketeering, gun and drug trafficking Shower Posse leader Christopher “Dudus” Coke told a judge “I am pleading guilty.”

The strongman whose lawyers contended their client would not accept a plea bargain said the reason he decided to accept responsibility for his past actions is because “I am guilty.”

Coke who was alleged to have masterminded numerous criminal drug deals throughout the United States and Jamaica met with Judge Robert P. Patterson in Manhattan.

It is alleged that the plea was entered because Coke had little recourse due to the overwhelming evidence the U.S. had compiled bolstering their claim that Coke was one of the most wanted men.

As a result of the plea agreement, Coke will not be prosecuted on the gun and cocaine-running charges for which he was extradited from Jamaica to the United States last year June.

Prior to the extradition, a national manhunt resulted in a month-long bloody uprising by gunmen to thwart his arrest.

Allegedly 73 people, including members of the military and police force, were killed when the security forces went into Tivoli Gardens to apprehend Coke. Within hours of Coke’s plea, his attorney Stephen H Rosen, who is based in Florida, told the Jamaica Observer that his client’s decision to make a plea resulted from the failure last week to have the court throw out damning wiretap evidence against him.

“The fact that 12 convicted men from Tivoli Gardens were set to testify about Coke committing no fewer than six murders in the furtherance of his alleged drug and gun-running operations also contributed to Coke’s decision to enter the guilty pleas,” Rosen reportedly said.

Rosen said his client risked being imprisoned for life had he gone to trial and was convicted.

On the racketeering conspiracy charge, Coke faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a maximum term of five years’ supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. On the conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering charge, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a maximum term of one year of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Court records also showed that the 42-year-old Jamaican was previously convicted in the U.S. Although it had been reported in many newspapers there that Coke had never visited the U.S., the Justice Department revealed that Coke had committed criminal offences 10 years before the most recent charges.

According to the document signed by Coke, his attorneys and U.S. law enforcement officials, Coke was convicted of possession of stolen property in Wake County Supreme Court, North Carolina “on or about May 9, 1988.”

Records show that Coke received a suspended sentence of three years’ imprisonment.

“The defendant’s criminal history record reflects that he was arrested on this charge in February 1988 and given a suspended sentence in May 1988,” the document stated.

The second conviction, the document revealed, was delivered “on or about Dec. 16, 1988” in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The charge in that case was transportation of a firearm in interstate commerce by an illegal alien.

Coke could spend 23 years behind bars. However, his attorney said that the judge has the discretion of imposing a lesser sentence.

At the same time, the United States said it will be going after Coke’s assets as part of his sentence.

“The forfeiture is being made under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which allows for extended criminal penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The prosecution is claiming that Coke acquired and maintained assets in violation of the RICO Act and as such, the assets were subject to forfeiture.”

Court papers filed in Manhattan federal court claimed that Coke led a notorious gang known as the Presidential Click. According to the document on orders from Coke, the community of Tivoli Gardens was guarded by a group of gunmen who “were armed with illegally trafficked firearms from the United States that Coke imported into Jamaica.”

“Since 1994, members of the Presidential Click have been involved in drug trafficking in locations throughout the world, including New York City, Miami and Kingston, Jamaica,” the papers detailed.

Residents of the Tivoli Gardens stronghold where Coke allegedly operated claim, the kingpin may have conceded to a plea because of the recent death of his mother Pauline “Patsy” Haliburton. They speculate that he may have given up due to the fact they had a close bond.

Hours after the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica issued a statement confirming the guilty plea, an editorial in the Jamaica Observer claimed the news that “Mr. Coke had pleaded guilty on two accounts did not come as a surprise.”

“The US Embassy said the former ‘Shower Posse’ leader pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. He is to be sentenced by Judge Patterson on December 8, 2011.

Between now and then, we hope that Mr. Coke will ‘sing like a bird’, naming names and pointing fingers. In a small society such as ours, it is not possible for Mr. Coke to have been able to run such a ‘successful’ organization without the involvement of well-placed individuals in both the public and private sectors. Not to mention the beneficiaries of his nefarious activities.”

He is to be sentenced by Judge Patterson on December 8, 2011.

Someone must account for the trauma suffered by this nation, particularly during the security forces’ operation to flush out thugs from Tivoli G ardens, and for the severe battering that our national image and economy took internationally.”

During the standoff last year where the garrison Tivoli Gardens armed against a police invasion a reported 73 Jamaicans were killed.

The popular daily newspaper urged Coke to “sing, Mr. Coke, sing your heart out!”

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