Pubdate: Sun, 15 Aug 1999
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 1999, The Tribune Co.
Author: Rachel La Corte, The Associated Press


MIAMI - After a failed five-year bid for freedom, the accused murderer and
drug runner is back in the United States.

Vivian Blake says he's a writer, a businessman and an investor.

Federal authorities say he helped lead the Shower Posse, a brutal,
Jamaican-dominated gang notorious for trafficking tons of cocaine and
marijuana in the 1980s. Authorities say the gang was responsible for some
1,400 murders in several states, including Florida, California and New York.

"They were a trafficking group to be reckoned with," said David Jacobson,
spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Detroit field division.
"They were capable of moving kilo levels of cocaine."

A federal grand jury indicted Blake in 1988 on dozens of counts, including
murder, racketeering, and the smuggling and distribution of drugs and
firearms. He eluded authorities when he boarded a cruise ship in Miami and
sailed to Jamaica, where he remained free until 1994.

Blake, on the FBI's Most Wanted list for more than a decade, was extradited
to South Florida last month after he lost a five-year campaign seeking his

He has pleaded innocent and now resides at the Federal Detention Center in
Miami. A trial date has not been set.

Blake's attorney, David Rowe, said his client is a victim of the
generalization of Jamaicans as criminals and is a scapegoat.

"The government is going to Have a lot of problems naming 1,400 people [who
were victims of the Shower Posse]," Rowe said after Blake's arraignment last
month. "They're going to have further problems tying Blake to these people."

In court documents, Rowe said that Blake has never been convicted of a
criminal offense and that he was in the jewelry business in New York in the
1980s, specializing in making gold bangle bracelets. Rowe also said that
Blake has written more than 15 plays.

Blake is the son of a Jamaican merchant tailor and a Jewish Jamaican
housewife. Blake's father moved to England shortly before Vivian Blake was
born. A Roman Catholic, Blake graduated from a Jesuit high school in 1972
with high grades, Rowe said.

"He has very strong support from poor people in Jamaica," Rowe said. "He is
someone who has consistently sent money from the United States to help
Jamaican poor people."

During his fight against extradition, Blake, 44, bought a half-page ad in a
Sunday newspaper in June asking fellow Jamaicans to oppose his extradition.

In an interview with GQ magazine for its August edition, Blake - at that
time held in a Jamaican prison awaiting extradition - said gang member Cecil
Connor, told him that he had fatally shot five people, including a pregnant
woman, in Miami in 1984 and two other gang members witnessed the slayings.

Blake, who is charged in connection with the murders, told the magazine that
he was sleeping when the other members left to commit the crime.

U.S. prosecutors have revealed few details of their case. Most of the
details that are available come from the 56- page indictment handed down
against Blake and 34 other members of the Shower Posse.

Several co-defendants have already served their prison terms and have been
deported to Jamaica. Others are serving prison terms. If convicted, Blake
could face 398 years in prison and $15.5 million in fines.

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