TWO MEN believed to be key lieutenants in the criminal enterprise run by Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke were among nine persons arrested in the upper St Andrew neighbourhood of Kirkland Heights yesterday during a massive military-police operation in search of the alleged drug kingpin.
Three women and six men were taken into custody after they were found at premises on Kirkland Way where information had led the security forces to believe that Dudus was hiding.
This was the second time in four days that the security forces were making their way into the upscale Kirkland Heights community in search of Coke, the island’s most wanted.
Last Thursday, the police searched premises on Kirkland Close, where they were engaged in a shoot-out by men who made their escape.
In that incident, businessman Keith Clarke was killed inside his house in controversial circumstances.
Yesterday, there was no gunfire in the predawn operation as a large detachment of soldiers and police surrounded the premises on Kirkland Way metres from Kirkland Close where last Thursday’s operation took place.
With well-practised moves, the soldiers entered the multi-storey building, adjacent to the home of a leading used-car dealer, and subdued the occupants.
The six men and three women, all with west Kingston addresses, were taken into custody while an elderly person and four children in the house were unharmed.
“At least one of the men had been detained during the operation in Tivoli Gardens, but he was processed and released,” Inspector Steve Brown, head of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), told journalists on the scene.
Brown said two of the men were known to be very close to Dudus and sources later told The Gleaner that the two were major players in the criminal network which operated out of Tivoli Gardens and were among the persons who were always seen around the suspected drug lord.
According to Brown, the police have identified the owner of the house and would be probing the connection with the west Kingston gangster.
However, the CCN boss did not provide details on the identity of the house owner.
“As we speak, the guys from the Organised Crime Investigation Division and the National Intelligence Bureau/Kingfish are inside the house and they are carrying out more in-depth investigations,” Brown said.
He said no firearms were found in the house, but said some important items were seized by the investigators.
“Documents, most important and there is also a Honda motor car that we are seizing,” Brown added.
However, he did not provide any information on the type of documents seized.
Since last week, the security forces have been searching several places in their quest to find Coke who eluded them when they attempted to arrest him in Tivoli Gardens last Monday.
The search has taken the police and soldiers to Plantation Heights St Andrew – where Coke is believed to have a house – Greater Portmore, St Catherine, and Kirkland Heights also in St Andrew, where a key business partner and at least one family member live.
Coke is wanted by local law-enforcement authorities to face the court on an extradition warrant.
He is also wanted by United States law-enforcement officials who have charged him with gunrunning and dealing in illegal drugs.