Catch him if you can. The whereabouts of Christopher “Dudus” Coke is unknown

Jamaican drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke was charged last year in U.S.  federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine and with conspiracy to illegally traffic in firearms. At least 44 people have died till now during fighting between the security forces and Coke’s gunmen.


1. An attempt to capture Christopher “Dudus” Coke turn the part of Kingston to a war zone. Was the violent reaction expected, and why? Did security forces underestimated the resistance of his supporters?

2. Do you think he will be captured at the end and with his capture the violence will stop?


Amanda Sives, Lecturer in Politics, University of  Liverpool

1. Yes, the violence was expected given his central role within the community of West Kingston for a considerable period of time. He is a community leader (known as a don) who commands respect based on his reputation and resources.  He was not expected to be taken quietly. I do not think the security forces underestimated the resistance of the community especially given their experience in West Kingston on previous occasions.

2. I do not know whether he will be captured or not as it is not clear whether he is actually still in the community. However, I assume the government and security forces will need to capture him given the high stakes for the government if they fail combined with  external pressures. It is unlikely that his capture will stop the violence but it depends on the timescale involved and the plans he has put in place  to continue the violence if he gets arrested. He has a sophisticated network of armed support both within the community and in other parts of the country.

Peter Clegg, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of the West of England

1. I think the violent reaction was expected, although not necessarily its extent. The supporters of Coke were certainly given enough time to prepare themselves, and there are suggestions that people from outside of West Kingston were given money (up to $1000 a day) to come in to bolster Coke’s supporters in the area. The reaction against the police and security forces can be explained by understanding the garrison phenomenon, and the attached document provides some insight into this. Despite the stronger than expected reaction the fact that over 2000 police and soldiers were deployed indicated that the state was prepared for a significant fight.

2. Although Coke has not yet been captured, it is more than likely that he will be in the end. Mainly because the United States wants him. Indeed it is possible that Coke will give himself up to the US authorities rather to the Jamaican ones. Coke might feel safer in US hands than in the local prison where his father, the gang’s previous leader, burned to death in 1992 while awaiting his own extradition.

Larry Birn, Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Although the area of combat between the security forces and those of the cartel has spread, it is basically limited to west Kingston, the nation’s capital and the center of resistance against government forces.  It is almost a near certainty that Coke will be captured since he has nowhere to hide and that it would be too politically costly for Cuba or Venezuela to take him in.  However, it is not a certainty that Jamaica’s security forces have the necessary training to be able to neutralize Coke’s forces or prevent the confusion from spreading to other parts of the island.  Then again, what would be a real nightmare for the U.S. would be if the casualty rate began to mount and that the many Kingston residents holding U.S. citizenship were having their safety jeopardized.  Using the need to rescue then and other foreign nationals, there would be pressure on Washington to either be alone or in concert with Caricom (The Caribbean organization of English-speaking islands) would consider sending in rescue forces as was done in the 1960s when the U.S. government sent threats of airborne troops to the Embasador Hotel Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, on a rescue mission and following a similar scenario to when the U.S. sent in thousands of troops to rescue U.S. medical students attending St. George’s School of Medicine.

One Response


    While the world continues on its idiotic, discredited policy of prohibition, the drugs trade will continue to bring death and misery to this island paradise.

    Legalise, regulate, tax – that way you pull the rug from under organised crime and you have a chance to minimise the harm that drugs cause.

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