Latin America & Caribbean

Jamaican alleged drug lord 'Dudus' extradited to US

Suspected drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke has arrived in New York to face drug and gun-trafficking charges after being extradited from Jamaica.

Mr Coke was flown from Kingston after waiving his rights to challenge the extradition.

He faces life in prison if convicted on charges filed against him in New York.

Attempts to capture him in May led to clashes in which scores of people died. He was finally detained on Tuesday.

The US justice department said Mr Coke was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan federal court on Friday.

Earlier, Mr Coke, 41, made a brief appearance before a Jamaican judge to announce that he was waiving his rights to challenge the extradition.

Mr Coke said he believed he could win the case in the Jamaican courts.

But he added that he would go to the US to stand trial for the sake of his family, the people of Tivoli in west Kingston and Jamaica.

"Everyone, the whole country, has been adversely affected by the process that has surrounded my extradition and I hope that my action today will go some way towards healing all who have suffered," he said in a statement.

The US justice department says Mr Coke is one of the world's most dangerous drug lords, but his supporters say he is a community leader.

Tivoli Gardens clashes

Mr Coke is accused of being the leader of the notorious Shower Posse, which US authorities say operates an international drug and gun smuggling network. It has also been blamed for numerous murders.

The pursuit of Mr Coke has shed light on the links between politicians and gang leaders in Jamaica.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding is said to have relied on Mr Coke to turn out the vote at election time in the Tivoli Gardens district he represents in parliament, and which the Shower Posse controls.

When Mr Coke was first indicted in the US last August, Mr Golding initially fought the extradition, arguing that it was based on flawed evidence.

But after months of delays and amid growing local and international criticism, he agreed to extradite the suspect and signed an arrest warrant in May.

However, gunmen loyal to Mr Coke in Tivoli Gardens barricaded the streets and mounted attacks against the police.

A state of emergency was declared and more than 70 people were killed in four days of gun battles, during which Mr Coke was able to escape. The security forces have since been accused of using excessive force.