WITH the immediate threat of the overrun of the capital city by criminals backing Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke behind us the million-dollar question Jamaicans were asking yesterday was: “Where is ‘Dudus’?”
Officials maintained that they had no clue to the whereabouts of Coke, but in the absence of official information, speculation was rife. Usually accurate Observer sources suggested that the deposed Tivoli Gardens strongman had voluntarily surrendered himself to the United States, which wants him to face trial for alleged trafficking in drugs and guns.
“The admission by Coke’s lawyers that after their meeting with the US embassy in Kingston Monday night ‘a window of opportunity’ had been opened, is the surest sign that ‘Dudus’ was ready to hand himself over,” the source insisted.
“The view is that Coke feels it is in his best interest to be taken to the US, rather than to a Jamaican jail where he could meet a similar fate as his father, the late Lester Lloyd Coke, alias ‘Jim Brown’, whom he eventually succeeded as the ‘don’.
Jim Brown died in a mysterious fire at the General Penitentiary where he was incarcerated while awaiting extradition.
But there are other claims that Coke might be in Venezuela, whose leader is known to be hostile to the United States. Cynical Jamaicans also insist that Coke was moved out of Tivoli by highly connected individuals, before the military moved in to break down barricades.
Asked if he had heard of the claim that Coke had handed himself in to the US embassy, Information Minister Daryl Vaz said that was the first time he was hearing it. “I suspect that is a rumour. If it were true I think I would have heard of it. Up till now (Observer press time) we have no idea where he is.” Coke’s lawyer, Paul Beswick, who met with the US embassy personnel, said: “I am in no position to answer any question at this time. “I’m sorry.”
The US network ABC reported US officials as saying Coke had slipped through the ring of hundreds of soldiers and police and escaped into nearby Denham Town or Jones Town.