Jamaican gang boss denies US drug charges
Jamaican gang leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he ran a massive drug ring in the eastern United States from his Caribbean stronghold.
Coke finally appeared in a US court after the government had sought for months to have him extradited from his home. His case had sparked street violence in Kingston, Jamaica, that left more than 70 dead.
The 42-year-old boss of the notorious Shower Posse gang was sent to New York on Thursday under tight security after waiving extradition.
Coke, wearing a blue inmate smock and speaking softly, entered the plea during a brief appearance in Manhattan federal court. Asked by Judge Robert Patterson whether he understood the charges, the defendant replied: "Yes, sir."
A defence lawyer temporarily assigned at the hearing told the judge Coke planned to hire another lawyer.
Lawyer Frank Doddato said after the hearing that he expects to represent Coke and would vigorously fight the charges.
"There's not going to be any leeway for compromise here," he said. A hearing was set for Monday to take up the matter of who would represent Coke.
New York prosecutors claim Coke conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana throughout the eastern US since 1994.
They allege that members of Coke's gang in Jamaica and their US counterparts "sold narcotics, including marijuana and crack cocaine, at Coke's direction". They say phone conversations with Coke about shipments of drugs and handguns had been recorded.
Coke said he was confident he would be found innocent.