25 Jun 2010

Accused drug lord extradited to US

11:33 am on 25 June 2010

Suspected Jamaican drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke has been extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on drug and gun-trafficking charges.

The BBC reports he waived his rights to challenge the extradition and faces life in prison if convicted on charges filed against him in New York.

Attempts to capture him in May led to clashes in which more than 70 people were killed. He was finally detained on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Mr Coke, aged 41, made a brief appearance before a Jamaican judge to announce that he was waiving his rights to challenge the extradition.

Mr Coke said he believed he could win the case in the Jamaican courts.

But he added that he would go to the US to stand trial for the sake of his family, the people of Tivoli in west Kingston and Jamaica.

The US Department of Justice says Mr Coke is one of the world's most dangerous drug lords, but his supporters say he is a community leader.

When Mr Coke was first indicted in the US last August, Prime Minister Bruce Golding initially fought the extradition, arguing that it was based on flawed evidence.

After months of delays and growing domestic and international criticism, he signed an arrest warrant in May.

However, gunmen loyal to Mr Coke in Tivoli Gardens barricaded the streets and mounted attacks against the police.

A state of emergency was declared and more than 70 people were killed in four days of gun battles, during which Mr Coke was able to escape.