Security forces stormed drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke's hideout in Kingston today as violence spreads, with the BBC reporting at least one solider dead and "bodies lying in the streets." The US wants him extradited on drug and weapons charges.
After declaring a state of emergency over the weekend, the fighting between Coke's gang, the Shower Posse, and the government has continued into a new phase. Today, security forces stormed his stronghold in the Tivoli Gardens area of Kingston, backed by helicopters, and are meeting stiff resistance. The BBC also reports that violence is spreading to other parts of the city, where Coke is regarded by many as a community figure who offers more support and social services than the Jamaican government. One Kingston resident, Suzanne, told the BBC:
If your grandmother dies, you go to him and he buries her," she said.
Okay, that's a fact. If you're a politician you're not going to find him, especially [PM] Bruce [Golding], you're not going to find him anywhere in the constituency, so you go to him [Dudus].
You need your child to go to school - you go to him, and this is how it's been, this kind of patronage."
Prime Minister Bruce Golding is said to have ties to Coke, whose extradition to the US he had previously blocked.