Jamaica Police Gain Hold On Drug Lord's Stronghold At least 30 people have been killed in street battles in Kingston, Jamaica, between masked gunmen and police backed up by thousands of troops. The gunmen are fighting to prevent the arrest of reputed drug kingpin Christopher Coke. He's wanted in the U.S. on drug charges.
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Jamaica Police Gain Hold On Drug Lord's Stronghold

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Jamaica Police Gain Hold On Drug Lord's Stronghold

Jamaica Police Gain Hold On Drug Lord's Stronghold

Jamaica Police Gain Hold On Drug Lord's Stronghold

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127128825/127128841" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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At least 30 people have been killed in street battles in Kingston, Jamaica, between masked gunmen and police backed up by thousands of troops. The gunmen are fighting to prevent the arrest of reputed drug kingpin Christopher Coke. He's wanted in the U.S. on drug charges.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, Host:

Jason, hello.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Hello. Good morning.

GREENE: Can you tell us a little bit about this alleged drug lord, Christopher Dudus Coke?

BEAUBIEN: He's very powerful. He is got close ties to the ruling political party. He's known for passing out school fees, helping people with medical expenses. So he's someone who's very revered and who people are now defending in Kingston against this attempt to extradite him to face drug charges in the U.S.

GREENE: So one of those cases we see, where someone can sort of maintain power by giving to the needy, in a play(ph)?

BEAUBIEN: Correct. Correct.

GREENE: This has, so far, been I guess a three-day offensive by the Jamaican government into the slums around the capital Kingston, allegedly controlled by Mr. Coke and what he calls his Shower Posse Gang. I mean, is there a sense the authorities are getting any closer to finding him and bringing him in?

BEAUBIEN: So it seems like there is really a long way to go in terms of bringing some resolution to this. And certainly Christopher Coke has said he's not going to go quietly

GREENE: I guess the Coke name has been around in Jamaica for a while. How much of a threat is he, Christopher Coke, to the country?

BEAUBIEN: The prime minister, Bruce Golding, has admitted that his party - the ruling party - paid $50,000 to a high powered Washington lobbying firm to try to keep Mr. Coke from being extradited to the United States. So it has shown the depth of the connection between very powerful drug gangs and the ruling party in Jamaica. And it's certainly brought Jamaica to a crisis at this point.

GREENE: And real briefly, Jason. This drug trafficking operation that Mr. Coke allegedly runs, how significant - how widespread is it?

BEAUBIEN: And obviously, this operation was in place long before the Mexican government launched that offensive. But there's really a concern that Jamaica and other places in the Caribbean could be even greater transit points, particularly for cocaine, as the Mexican cartels come under more pressure.

GREENE: We've been listening to NPR's Jason Beaubien talking to us from Jamaica. Jason, thanks.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.

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