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Alleged Jamaican Drug Lord Coke Extradited to US


Alleged Jamaican drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke has been extradited to the United States, one month after a manhunt for him sparked violence that left at least 73 people dead in the capital, Kingston.

Coke was handed over to U.S. marshals Thursday and flown from Kingston to New York to face drug and weapons charges. Coke's departure came hours after he decided not to fight his extradition, saying he was acting in the best interest of his family and Jamaica.

Coke is wanted by the United States for alleged cocaine and arms trafficking and faces life in prison if convicted. Coke was taken into custody Tuesday in the parish of St. Catherine and flown to neighboring Kingston.

U.S. officials sent an extradition request for Coke to the Jamaican government last August, but Prime Minister Bruce Golding initially refused to allow it to be processed, arguing evidence in the case had been obtained illegally.

Mr. Golding later reversed himself under growing public pressure that threatened his political career. His stand also strained relations with the United States.

Last month, soldiers and police in Kingston launched an operation for Coke, raiding the Tivoli Gardens slum where he has influence, in a failed effort to arrest him.

Coke is the alleged leader of the "Shower Posse," named for the practice of showering rivals with bullets during the cocaine wars of the 1980s.

Separately, the U.S. State Department Thursday issued a travel alert for Jamaica, urging U.S. citizens to exercise heightened security awareness and maintain a low profile while in the capital and surrounding areas.

The alert notes that since late May, Jamaica's security forces have been engaged in operations to root out illegal weapons in formerly gang-controlled neighborhoods and apprehend suspected gang members.

It also says a state of emergency is in effect in some areas and the possibility exists that police operations and/or violence could spread. The alert advises Americans in Jamaica to monitor local news reports frequently when leaving their homes or hotels in the Kingston area.

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