Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a Jamaican convicted of heading an international narcotics-trafficking ring since the early 1990s, was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a federal judge in New York.
Coke pleaded guilty in August to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. He was arrested by Jamaican authorities and was brought to the U.S. in June 2010. The arrest sparked civil unrest in Coke’s neighborhood, and some residents wrote to the court seeking leniency for him.
“I’m a good person and I’ve done a lot of good deeds,” Coke told U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson in Manhattan today. Patterson said Coke’s criminal conduct offset any good behavior he might have considered.
Prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that since the early 1990s, Coke led the “Presidential Click” or the “Shower Posse,” a criminal enterprise based in Kingston, Jamaica, known to have members in the U.S. and other countries.
Prosecutors said that since 1994, members of the Presidential Click were involved in drug trafficking in New York, Miami and Jamaica, distributing marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine at Coke’s direction.
Coke was indicted in 2007 and the charges remained sealed until his arrest. He was accused of conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana and plotting to illegally traffic in firearms.
After Coke’s arrest, violence broke out as gang members and Coke’s supporters clashed with Jamaican security forces, resulting in the deaths of about 70 people. According to prosecutors, residents of Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens neighborhood sent a petition to the judge seeking leniency for Coke.
“Coke’s ability to provide financial support to members and institutions in the community is inextricably linked to his narcotics trafficking activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Strauber said in court papers. “There can be no dispute that narcotics trafficking activities also served as a source of funds for him, and thus for his charitable activities.”
The case is U.S. v. Coke, 07-cr-971, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).