Court Allows Coke Wiretap Evidence


By Alexander Britell

Jamaican strongman Christopher Coke’s motion to exclude wiretap evidence taken against him in Jamaica has been denied in US Federal Court.

Coke is alleged to have controlled the Tivoli Gardens area in Kingston since the early 1990s and controlled the deadly Shower Posse criminal organization.

Coke, whose US request for extradition sent Jamaica into a crisis and an eventual state of emergency, argued that wiretap evidence taken of him in Jamaica should be excluded from trial.

Coke is charged in a two-count superseding indictment with conspiring to distribute marijuana and cocaine in the United States and conspiring to traffic in firearms.

Coke and his legal team had filed a motion to exclude all wiretap evidence from his trial in June, a motion supported by testimony including an affidavit by former Jamaican Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne.

He argued that “the Government of the United States knowingly and surreptitiously stole the Coke wiretap interceptions from Jamaica,” in addition to claiming that two Memoranda of Understanding between Jamaica, the UK and the US were illegal under US law and that the DEA had been unaware of them.

The memoranda, which were signed on behalf of Jamaica by then-Minister of National Security Dr Peter Phillips, involved sharing of intelligence between the countries and the creation of a DEA-funded telecommunications intercept facility which would be linked to the Jamaican Narcotics Division.

According to the court’s order, the Jamaican Supreme Court issued a series of orders authorizing interception of Coke and his co-conspirators’ cell phones in Jamaica beginning in 2004.

The court found, however, that Coke fell short of establishing that the conduct of US or Jamaican officials had violated his due process rights.

The court also found that Coke’s argument that the MOUs were invalid under US law had no basis, finding that the US Congress has not delegated the authority to enter into such agreements exclusively with its State Department.

Coke’s trial is set to begin Sep. 15.

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