FUGITIVE Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke took off faster than a cat when soldiers began pounding his West Kingston enclave of Tivoli Gardens early on Labour Day, May 24, an associate of the dethroned self-styled area leader told the Observer.
“The man tek off like a puss when him hear the first bum (bomb) drop,” the associate said of his former leader, who has been on the run since May 17 after a warrant was issued for his arrest in relation to an extradition matter.
Coke, 42, the adopted son of another former Tivoli Gardens ‘don’, Lester Lloyd Coke, otherwise called Jim Brown, is wanted by the United States to answer charges related to drug trafficking and gunrunning. He has been successful in evading a forceful dragnet established by the security forces and remains Jamaica’s most wanted man.
Coke is said to be leader of the infamous Shower Posse, a gang that has its roots in the United States (US) and which is responsible for the murder of over 1,600 people during the cocaine wars of the 1980s. Victims were often sprayed with bullets, a practice from which the gang’s name was derived, US law enforcers said.
Police and soldiers launched a highprofile assault on Coke’s Tivoli Gardens base a day after two policemen were killed in the Mountain View area, east of the Jamaica capital, and several police stations either burnt to the ground, or used as shooting practice by criminals who sprayed their walls, windows and doors with bullets.
But Coke, who was in Tivoli Gardens when the clashes began, quickly jumped ship, leaving behind some of his fighters. When the smoke cleared almost three days later, police reported that 73 civilians and a soldier were killed, figures that may be adjusted, according to head of the constabulary, Commissioner Owen Ellington, as investigations showed that some bodies were found outside of Tivoli Gardens.
“Him just tek off so and lef’ everybody,” the associate said on the weekend. “The man move so fast that not even lightning coulda ketch him.”
Asked where he thought ‘Dudus’ went and which escape route he took out of Tivoli Gardens, the associate said that he was not sure.
“After him move, we no see whey him tun (turn). Him just bolt so,” said the man who was among a group of over 500 detained by security forces and processed at the National Arena during the disturbances. He was later released.
The associate insisted that the army bombed sections of Tivoli Gardens, although Jamaica Defence Force official Colonel Rocky Meade has scoffed at the suggestion that bombs were dropped on the community.
Large holes in sections of the Jamaica Labour Party stronghold, as well as two gaping ones in the roof toward the northern section of the busy Coronation Market, across from Tivoli Gardens, did suggest that heavy artillery was used by the military.
The holes in the roof of the Coronation Market were still evident last Thursday when Prime Minister Bruce Golding, along with officials including agriculture minister Dr Chris Tufton, minister with responsibility for local government Robert Montague, Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie and town clerk of the Kingston & St Andrew Corporation Errol Greene, toured it extensively.
Asked if ‘Dudus’ had let his down his ‘soldiers’ in crime, the associate said that he was a major disappointment, as he had left the battlefield when things got hot and caused others to fight a war that he started.
“Yeah, me never rate how him do him thing. Him just run way so and a him cause all a dis fe gwaan. It better if him did give up himself, because so much people woulda never dead,” the associate said.
Premises which housed Coke’s business establishments, Presidential Click and Incomparable Enterprises, are now under the control of the security forces, which have virtually taken over Tivoli Gardens, following the imposition of a month-long State of Emergency on May 23.