Tivoli under satellite surveillance

Americans said to have audio, video recordings of Gov't officials in community

Sunday, March 14, 2010

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TIVOLI Gardens, the tough West Kingston base of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, is under satellite surveillance by United States authorities who are determined to have Coke extradited to answer drug- and gun-running charges in New York, the Sunday Observer has learnt.

According to a security expert with knowledge of the operation, the US has powerful audio and video evidence of activities involving Coke, as well as several Government officials, including members of the legislature, inside the Tivoli Gardens community centre.

With the use of Satellite Internet Telemetry System (SIMS) similar to that used to record wildlife activities, the US has captured the make, colour and licence plates of vehicles entering and exiting Tivoli Gardens at specific periods, as well as conversations, the expert said.

The SIMS, the expert said, is very simple to operate.

"Satellite service is available anywhere in the world for the system to operate. The data is transmitted from the Satellite Telemetry System based on programmed time intervals and/or alarms. It is transferred through satellite and Internet to a dedicated web page, and you can monitor and collect that data as long as you have web access," the expert said.

"It is very simple. Set your co-ordinates, hook up your sensors, point the antenna to the sky, and turn on your equipment," added the expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Wire-tapping communication is an insignificant part of the evidence against Coke," said the expert in reference to Prime Minister Bruce Golding's claim that the evidence supporting the extradition request violated the Interception of Communications Act which makes strict provisions for the manner in which intercepted communications may be obtained and disclosed.

Also captured, the expert said, was a gathering of some Government officials, along with individuals from the Tivoli Gardens community making and smoking what appeared to be marijuana spliffs at the centre, on different occasions.

"The United States is making sure that its case against Coke is airtight, and until he is extradited every Jamaican entering the US will be targeted. The US will not relent on this one," said the expert who met with the Sunday Observer on Friday night.

Relations between Kingston and Washington have deteriorated over the extradition request, with the US State Department accusing the Jamaican Government of delaying tactics.

Two Mondays ago, in a scathing Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the Americans questioned Jamaica's commitment to law enforcement co-operation and charged that "Jamaica's processing of the extradition request has been subjected to unprecedented delays, unexplained disclosure of law enforcement information to the press, and unfounded allegations questioning the US' compliance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and Jamaican law".

The US also said that the Jamaican Government's handling of the extradition request marked a dramatic change in Kingston's previous co-operation on extradition, including a temporary suspension in the processing of all other pending requests.

The US also labelled Jamaica as the Caribbean's largest supplier of marijuana to the United States as well as a transshipment point for cocaine entering South America.

"The Government of Jamaica's ambitious anti-corruption and anti-crime legislative agendas announced in 2007 remain stalled in Parliament," said the report.

"Five anti-crime proposals under consideration as part of an extensive agenda to address the widespread crime challenges have yet to be debated by Parliament," added Washington, which noted that Jamaica is a party to the 1988 United Nations Drug Convention.

However, the following day, Golding rejected the US' charges and said that the evidence presented in the extradition request -- made in August last year -- breached Jamaican law.

"The Jamaican Government, rather than summarily refusing the request, discussed with the US authorities the breaches that had occurred which made it impossible for the minister (of justice), being aware of such breaches, to issue the authority to proceed," Golding said in an address to the Parliament.

"In an effort to overcome the impediment... the Jamaican Government indicated to the US authorities that if other evidence existed, the procurement and disclosure of which were not in violation of Jamaican law, the minister would be prepared to accept that evidence and issue the necessary authority to proceed. No such evidence has up to now been presented," he added.

On Friday, the security expert said that American border officials are turning up the heat on Jamaicans who have massive personal wealth but who have no supporting documentation to show how the wealth was gained.

A list viewed by the Sunday Observer includes some of Jamaica's well-known officials, as well as business people of both genders. They are described as having "massive personal wealth", which is said to have raised red flags at US borders.

The spotlight on these individuals has not come as a surprise to University of Miami Law Professor David Rowe, who remained consistent in his view that Coke is an albatross around the neck of the prime minister, the Jamaica Labour Party and the Government.

"There is no question that they are being targeted," Rowe said. "Where the individuals have amassed wealth in a short period of time and without any corresponding income to corroborate it is an automatic red flag to the US Justice Department."

Rowe as well as Sunday Observer sources in the US believe that embarrassing times are ahead for several Jamaican business officials at US borders, even if the Government hands over Coke.

Information reaching the Sunday Observer is that several Jamaicans who have amassed large personal wealth but who are unable to provide credible sources of income are currently in detention centres in the US.

Massive unexplained wealth is said to have been the reason behind an upstanding Jamaican businessman being detained in the US for several hours on a return trip to the island in early January.

It is also said to be the reason for the detention without bond -- at Krome Avenue Detention Centre in Florida -- of a Jamaican man of Chinese descent.

The man and another Jamaican/Chinese are said to have arrived in the US on March 2 on an Air Jamaica flight.

The man, whose Alien card number was supplied to the Sunday Observer, was said to have had his Green Card revoked. He did not respond to our request for an interview last Thursday.

Late last week, the influential Economist magazine reported that American authorities have become frustrated at what they see as foot-dragging by Jamaica's Government over the Coke extradition request.

The article, titled 'Seeking Mr Coke: American anger at Jamaica's slowness in handing over an alleged gang boss', said "if the United States' allegations of political links are well-founded, some Jamaican public figures may fear that Mr Coke's arrest would lead to the disclosure of embarrassing information".

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