Jamaica in State of Emergency as Violence Engulfs Capital
The block is verrrrry hot in Jamaica. Men loyal to a drug lord stand guard against U.S. authorities who seek to take the Jamaican "don" into custody:
The government declared a state of emergency as sporadic gunshots rang out in gritty West Kingston, stronghold of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, a Jamaican "don" charged in the U.S. with drug and arms trafficking. His defiant supporters turned his Tivoli Gardens neighborhood and other areas into a virtual fortress with trashed cars and barbed wire.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding had stalled the extradition request for nine months with claims the U.S. indictment relied on illegal wiretap evidence. After Golding reversed himself amid growing public discontent over his opposition, Coke's supporters began barricading streets and preparing for battle.
Coke is described as one of the world's most dangerous drug lords by the U.S. Justice Department. He has ties to the governing Jamaica Labour Party and holds significant sway over the West Kingston area represented in Parliament by Golding.
Golding's fight against the extradition strained relations with Washington, which questioned Jamaica's reliability as an ally in the fight against drugs. His handling of the matter, particularly his hiring of a U.S. firm to lobby Washington to drop the extradition request, provoked an outcry in Jamaica that threatened his political career.
Coke, who typically avoids the limelight, has remained silent. He faces life in prison if convicted on charges filed against him in New York.