“This is the first year that’s not keeping,” says Powell, adding that many of Tivoli’s children are not attending school this year. Parents who might normally “check Dudus” for help with school fees, uni- forms or lunch money feel they have nowhere to turn. “Now them come with them light bill and right now people have no work,” he says. “Wha’ dem expect? People gonna rob. Caw dem nah go live inna dark- ness... Community gone to the dogs.”
Many would argue that it went to the dogs some time ago. Security forces announced that they’d discov- ered pet crocodiles in an alleged Tivoli “torture cham- ber.” The reptiles’ stomach contents were reportedly tested for human remains. “Don’t let anybody pull the wool over your eyes,” says David P. Rowe, professor of Caribbean Law at the University of Miami. “They were very evil people. They have no heart.”
But for every story of chain-sawed limbs, there are tales of Dudus’ wisdom and generosity. Owen Powell speaks nostalgically of Sunday mornings, when Dudus could be seen riding a motorcycle through Tivoli in his finest linen suit. “Him go church, then ride round, see who no have them dinner money and dem ting deh,” Powell recalls. Residents hailed the man as a hero, children ran after him to give thanks. “Dudus deal with we good,” Powell concludes. “Dudus is a man who can stop a war from gwan out deh... Politics can’t stop it. A good man. Great man. Almighty Father God know.”
Mr. Coke was still at large when an attorney named Hannah Harris Barrington surfaced, telling the Lon- don Sunday Times Dudus was seeking political asylum because he feared for his life. “He is willing to disclose all the information that he is going to be killed for,” she said. “He is willing to tell everything he knows about the prime minister.” Meanwhile, Jamaican papers reported that Coke might be planning to flee to Ven- ezuela or Colombia. A bounty of 5 million Jamaican dollars (about $60,000) was placed on his head.
But on June 22, he was arrested at a routine police checkpoint on Kingston’s Mandela Highway, riding with evangelical preacher Reverend Al Miller. While Dudus was reportedly wearing a woman’s wig as a disguise, Rev. Miller told police he was taking the 41-year-old fugitive to the U.S. Embassy so he could turn himself in. (The embassy denied any such
arrangement.) Instead of receiving the reward money, Rev. Miller was charged with obstruction of justice and harboring a fugitive.
Dudus was photographed wear- ing the wig, an image that became the first glimpse for many of the publicity- shy strongman. He was flown by heli- copter to Spanish Town and waived his right to an extradition hearing in Ja- maica. Surrounded by DEA agents, the young don was escorted onto a Learjet headed for White Plains, N.Y. As cam- eras jostle for position, reporters lob questions, and a phalanx of security escorts him into a convoy of vans and SUVs, Coke’s face was a blank mask.
SINS OF THE FATHER
History repeats itself. Twenty years ago, Chris- topher Coke’s father, Lester “Jim Brown” Coke was arrested in Kingston and faced extradition to the U.S. on charges of drug trafficking, extortion and murder.
Named for the gridiron giant and movie star, Jim Brown was Tivoli’s “Don of Dons.” After delivering the votes by any means necessary in the bloody 1980 elec- tion—which Seaga and the JLP won in a landslide—he set his sights on being much more than a neighborhood enforcer. Along with an astute entrepreneur named Vivian Blake, Jim Brown built an international drug cartel known as the Shower Posse. “Blake was more of a businessman than Coke,” says Blake’s former defense attorney David Rowe. “He was an organiza- tional genius, who used murder to enforce the effi- ciency of the organization. But he thought that shoot- ing people just for the purpose of shooting people was inefficient... His was more of a CEO-type approach than Coke, who was more of a desperado.”
The Shower Posse legend is well known to read- ers of F.E.D.S. magazine and viewers of BET’s Ameri- can Gangster. Jim Brown made staggering sums traf- ficking in ganja, guns, and eventually, crack cocaine. The franchise spread beyond Jamaican borders to include Miami, Atlanta, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, London—even Anchorage, Alaska. According to a federal indictment, some 1,400 murders in Ameri- can cities were attributed to the posse.
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