Alleged Fugitive Drug Lord Arrested In Jamaica

Jamaican news media are reporting that reputed drug lord Christopher Coke has surrendered to police in Jamaica. The reported surrender comes nearly a month after dozens of people died during an assault by Jamaican forces on Coke's stronghold in West Kingston. Robert Siegel talks to Karyl Walker of the Jamaica Observer.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

In Jamaica, a deadly month-long manhunt has ended. Jamaican police say the alleged drug lord, Christopher Coke, is in custody. He's wanted by the United States on gun and drug trafficking charges.

Last month, Jamaican forces searched a Kingston slum for Coke that triggered four days of gun battles between security forces and Coke's loyal supporters. More than 70 people were killed.

Well joining us now from Kingston is Karyl Walker. He's a reporter with the Jamaica Observer. He's been following this story.

And Mr. Walker, how did Coke finally get caught?

Mr. KARYL WALKER (Reporter, Jamaica Observer): Well, he was travelling in a vehicle with - in the company of Reverend Al Miller a (unintelligible) church clergyman, when he was stopped by the police who were, in fact, acting on (unintelligible).

SIEGEL: And was the arrest - was it peaceful or was there a gunfire? What do you know about it?

Mr. WALKER: No gunfire. He had, in fact, according to Reverend Miller in radio interviews locally - with the court had, in fact, indicated his intention to waive is right to an (unintelligible) hearing and (unintelligible) into the U.S. authorities.

They reported that he was heading to the United States embassy when he was intercepted and arrested by the local cops.

SIEGEL: Are you saying that it's reported that he was headed to the embassy to surrender to U.S. authorities?

Mr. WALKER: To the U.S. authorities, yes, sir.

SIEGEL: Oh. Now I want you to remind us about the efforts that were made to find Coke over the past several weeks.

Mr. WALKER: Well, they have - this goes back to May 18th when an arrest warrant was signed, giving the police the (unintelligible) to arrest Coke so extradition proceedings could have been charged against him.

It started with (unintelligible) who were claiming to be loyal to him, wrote defending to the (unintelligible) weapon, barricading him (unintelligible) to his former stronghold of Tivoli Garden and other faction who were (unintelligible) to him, attacking police stations, attacking members of the police force, killing two cops, wounding seven others. And it was a (unintelligible) of mayhem and civil unrest.

Then on May 24, the security forces launched immediate offensive on his former stronghold of Tivoli Garden, and after two days of fighting, managed to (unintelligible) the efforts the armed gunmen to stop them from entering the community. However, Mr. Coke was nowhere in sight. He had managed to flee. He (unintelligible) the community and he was at large.

SIEGEL: Well, now that he evidently is going to be in custody, just briefly, do you know what's going to happen to him next?

Mr. WALKER: Well, the first conference (unintelligible) a while ago, police commissioner Owen Ellington said the police were trying to get him before a local (unintelligible). So if you want to waive his right to an extradition, the way to process (unintelligible) here he will have to go before a court until (unintelligible). I do not wish to contest his extradition (unintelligible) against to me. And I waive my right to an extradition hearing and I will go directly to the United States to face the (unintelligible) over there.

SIEGEL: But that we won't know if that's the case, you say, for another two days?

Mr. WALKER: No.

SIEGEL: Okay. Mr. Walker, thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. WALKER: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: It's Karyl Walker, reporter for the Jamaica Observer, talking to us from Kingston.

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