FORMER minister of national security Dr Peter Phillips says Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke is possibly more powerful than the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government which has been attracting a lot of flax over its refusal to act on a United States extradition request for Coke.
The Americans submitted the extradition request last August, accusing Coke of drug- and gun-running. However, the Bruce Golding-led Administration has said that the evidence gathered against Coke breached Jamaica’s Interception of Communications Act.
But for Phillips that argument holds little water and is an indication of the fear that Coke drives into the hearts of the ruling party. According to Phillips, Coke may be the most powerful man in the country.
“That inference can be drawn when we see all the resources they are putting in to defend him. It certainly looks like he is very powerful,” Phillips told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
Phillips, whose questions in Parliament in March threw the spotlight on the JLP’s dealing with the US law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, said Jamaica’s reputation had been terribly sullied and the Government should move to clean up the country’s image.
The JLP has since admitted that persons in the party engaged the services of the law firm to negotiate extradition issues with high-ranking members of the Obama administration.
“It is time we decide if we are going to be a narco state or we are going to abide by the rules of law and order,” Phillips said.
Last week, Toronto police arrested 12 members of the Shower Posse and have charged them with drugs and weapons offences. The cops said the arrested persons had links to drug traffickers in Panama, the US and the Dominican Republic.
Coke has been named by North American authorities as the leader of the ‘international cartel who had been pulling the strings in Toronto’s north-west end, supplying drugs and guns to smaller gangs and fuelling violence in the area’.
Headquartered in Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, the Shower Posse reportedly has branches in over 20 US cities, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Phillips himself earned the wrath of People’s National Party (PNP) supporters when, during his tenure at the security ministry, Clansman boss and known PNP supporter, Donovan ‘Bulbie’ Bennett, was cut down in hail of police bullets at a palatial residence in Tanarkie, Clarendon in November 2005.
In the aftermath of Bennett’s death, irate PNP supporters burnt effigies of Phillips and T-shirts bearing his image in sections of St Catherine and Clarendon.
Party insiders say Bennett’s demise may have cost Phillips the leadership of the PNP in the contentious presidential race which he lost to Portia Simpson Miller in September 2008.