Jamaica-Gleaner.com: Jamaica’s No. 1 fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke spent last night in an unidentified maximum-security facility as the long search for him came to an end.
After a bloody battle to capture Coke in his Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston, enclave last month, he was held yesterday without one shot being fired.
Coke was held about 4 p.m. yesterday, bringing to a close a monthlong islandwide manhunt. Sources say he was found with a wig that was used as a disguise.
He was reportedly being taken by the Reverend Al Miller, the prominent cleric who facilitated the surrender of two of Coke’s siblings, to the United States Embassy in Kingston when he was held.
Miller was travelling with Coke on Mandela Highway close to the border of St Andrew and St Catherine when the police stopped the vehicle.
“The police were monitoring a vehicle checkpoint on the Mandela Highway and they were acting on intelligence,” Police Commissioner Owen Ellington told journalists during a press conference at his Old Hope Road, St Andrew, office yesterday afternoon.
Coke was leaving St Catherine on the same day Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced a state of emergency would be established in that parish.
Yesterday, Ellington refused to say if any “armed militiamen” had also been held.
The police commissioner also refused to say if the $5 million bounty offered for information leading to the arrest of Coke would be paid out.
“The arrest of Coke today is the culmination of an extended operation that started on the 24th of May,” Ellington said bluntly.
Last night, US Chargé d’Affaires Isiah Parnell said he had not yet been officially informed of the capture.
“I am pleased with the news and am looking forward to dealing with the extradition proceedings,” he told The Gleaner.
Miller could be in trouble
During the police press briefing, Ellington warned Miller to turn himself in immediately at any police station for questioning.
The top cop hinted that the pastor could be in trouble for trying to circumvent local authorities by transporting Coke to the US Embassy.
“This afternoon, before coming down here, I spoke with all of my senior officers and I asked each individual if they were party to any discussion or agreement for the bypassing of the legal process for Coke to be turned over to US marshals. Each officer responded in the negative,” Ellington said.
However, Ellington could not explain why Miller was not detained when Coke was held.
“The policemen on the ground at the time allowed him to go (but) I’m investigating the reason why that was done.”
Last night, Miller, chairman of the National Transformation Programme, said he would turn himself in today.
Ellington said arrangements are being made to have Coke face the courts as quickly as possible.
Could face court in 48 hours
With reports circulating that Coke has decided not to fight the extradition request, the commissioner told journalists that the fugitive could face the local courts within the next 48 hours.
But Coke’s attorney, Don Foote, was unable to shed light late yesterday on his client’s intentions.
“I will have to get instructions from him. Now that Coke has been held, the committal process has started,” Foote told The Gleaner.
As the police and army combed Jamaica for Coke, they had warned that persons knowing of his whereabouts could be charged with harbouring a fugitive, a serious offence that is administered by the High Court.
The manhunt took the security forces into inner cities, rural communities and upscale neighbourhoods where Coke and his associates were suspected to be hiding.
Dudus, indicted in the US on a range of drug- and gun-trafficking offences, has been on the run since he eluded a massive dragnet in his potent Tivoli Gardens.