By David Rowe
Christopher Coke received a 23-year sentence Friday for racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering from Judge Robert Patterson Of the Southern District of New York.
According to witness testimony, Coke used a chainsaw to cut a man up while Coke’s henchmen held him down. Coke also allegedly used a hatchet to chop up other compatriots who had turned on him, according to Cohen.
One witness, Jermaine Cohen, said he became a ”shotta,” or enforcer, for Coke, and that he had distributed illegal guns to unemployed youth at Coke’s behest.
Anthony Brown, another witness against Coke, testified that Coke coerced young girls, including some who were pre-adolescent, to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
Despite this type of conduct, Coke sought leniency at the culmination of his sentencing hearing. Judge Patterson was not inclined to grant it. The Judge also ordered Coke to forfeit some $1.5 million dollars worth of assets which he had amassed during his time in Jamaica.
Coke is accused of running a private army called the “Shower Posse” through a command structure known as the “Presidential Click.”
The “Presidential Click” spread terror in the Tivoli Gardens area of Jamaica located in Western Kingston.
Residents of Tivoli who did not smuggle drugs or submit to violent extortion were subject to hostile discipline in a private jail set up in the middle of Tivoli, an area known as “Java.”
Jamaica’s Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, when reacting to the sentence, said that no one was “above the law,” and that is the type of policy approach that many of his colleagues in the United States are anxious to hear.
The statistics relating to unsolved murders in Jamaica, however, are still very disappointing, and the frequency of the murders even more so.
One of the letters to Judge Patterson that was disclosed at his sentencing hearing suggested that Coke’s Shower Posse was alive and well and, in fact, flourishing since Coke’s departure to the United States through extradition.
This is troubling, as many US policy makers thought that the arrest of Coke would break the power of the Shower Posse.
Coke’s requested extradition to New York in 2010 led to a major US-Jamaica diplomatic faceoff.
A violent 2010 confrontation in Tivoli Gardens between Coke’s gunmen and Jamaican soldiers, which left 73 people dead, has not yet been judicially investigated.
Coke has been sentenced, but many legal loose ends remain.
Many Jamaicans hope that, as Christopher Coke goes into maximum security in a federal prison in the United States, the Coke nightmare will soon be over.
David Rowe is an attorney in Florida and Jamaica and a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.