Pubdate: Tue, 25 May 2010
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2010 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Tom Leonard, The Daily Telegraph


Gang Has Toronto Reach; Jamaica's 'Posse' Tries To Stop Leader's 
Extradition To U.S.

Jamaica has declared a state of emergency after gun battles were 
waged in the streets of the island's capital between police and 
gangsters defending an alleged drug baron.

At least two police officers and a civilian were killed and a police 
station burnt down as hooded gunmen from across the Caribbean island 
gathered in Kingston's crime-plagued downtown area, setting up 
roadblocks and firing on officers trying to remove them.

Airlines yeserday cancelled a number of flights to and from the capital.

The wave of violence, which showed signs of spreading yesterday 
beyond its centre in west Kingston, followed the government's 
announcement that it would extradite Christopher "Dudus" Coke, an 
alleged drug kingpin, to face drug and gun trafficking charges in New York.

Mr. Coke, 41, is a godfather-like figure in the Kingston 
neighbourhood of Tivoli Gardens, where his supporters blockaded 
streets in anticipation of police attempts to find and arrest him.

Although police insist that the violence is the work of gangsters and 
drug dealers, many ordinary people respect Mr. Coke as a provider of 
jobs, money, schooling and food in a struggling economy.

His word is considered law in Tivoli Gardens -- children stay off the 
streets after 8 p.m. and the area is largely free of petty theft.

Hundreds of residents have demonstrated in his support, some 
clutching placards with slogans such as "Jesus died for us so we will 
for Dudus."

But U.S. prosecutors say Mr. Coke is the leader -- or "don" -- of the 
Shower Posse, so called for its alleged practice of showering its 
enemies with bullets. The gang, which he allegedly inherited from his 
father in 1992, was blamed for more than 1,400 murders across the 
United States and Jamaica in the 1980s and is said to have cocaine 
trafficking interests in Britain, the U.S. and Canada

The Shower Posse is the same group Toronto police allege supplies 
weapons to and controls the street gangs targeted in Ontariowide, 
early-morning raids earlier this month.

Police say the gang funnells drugs through the Caribbean to 
street-level gangs such as the Falstaff Crips and the Five Point 
Generals in the Greater Toronto Area.

On May 4, more than 1,000 police officers from forces across Ontario 
executed 105 search warrants in the GTA and Ottawa, resulting in 79 
arrests and the seizure of $30,000 in cash, $10,500 in casino 
cheques, 19 firearms, diamonds, cocaine, body armour, vehicles and 
more than 10,000 Ecstasy pills.

The arrests signal the first time police have been able to establish 
a link to the infamously violent Jamaican drug cartel, which one 
expert says has been operating in the GTA for decades, reaping 
profits in the shadows while fuelling gang warfare and terrorizing residents.

Mr. Coke is also a prominent supporter of the ruling Jamaican Labour 
Party. Local criminal gangs have long been used -- and protected -- 
by the country's two main political parties to get out the vote at 
election time.

Mr. Coke's position is further complicated by the fact that Tivoli 
Gardens is the parliamentary constituency of Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister.

The two police officers who died, along with six others who were 
injured, had gone to the aid of a woman motorist who said she had 
been shot at in the east of the city.

The authorities said five police stations were attacked and one of 
them set on fire after its occupants ran out of ammunition and had to flee.

Another was attacked in Spanish Town, the old capital to the west of 
Kingston, and there have been widespread reports of gunmen roaming 
the streets, looting and car-jacking.

In a televised address, Mr. Golding described the violence as a 
"calculated assault on the authority of the state that cannot be tolerated."

He said the state of emergency in Kingston and the neighbouring 
district of St. Andrew "will be a turning point for us as a nation to 
confront the powers of evil that have penalized the society and 
earned us the unenviable label as one of the murder capitals of the world."

Mr. Golding's government had refused for nine months to extradite Mr. 
Coke, but announced a week ago that he could be taken to face trial 
in New York.

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Toronto Police say the Jamaican gang Shower Posse is allegedly 
responsible for a "significant part" of the city's drug trade, and 
that its influence stretches as far north as Sault Ste. Marie, 
sweeping from Windsor in the west to Ottawa in the east. Earlier this 
year, Project Corral investigators in the Dominican Republic 
intercepted more than 70 kilograms of cocaine and a load of firearms 
destined for Toronto, police say.

Two unsolved homicides, one on Dec. 3, 2009, and the other on Feb. 8, 
2010, both of which occurred on Falstaff Avenue, are also part of the 

The Shower Posse takes its name from its modus operandi -- showering 
communities with bullets to enforce their dominance, said Michael C. 
Chettleburgh, author of Young Thugs: Inside the Dangerous World of 
Canadian Street Gangs.

The Posse has a strong presence in northwest Toronto because members 
fled to Canada when Michael Manley's government took power in Jamaica 
in the 1970s.

"They came with a lot of violence in their system, essentially, in 
that they were brought up in the ways of badness by government 
officials," said Mr. Chettleburgh, the founder of Astwood Strategy 
Corp., a crime and social justice consultancy group. "They came with 
access to the drug trade, and they arrived in Canada ... and 
basically set up shop."

The gang's lineage has been passed on to a new generation of Canadians, he said.
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