Dudus associates arrested

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday May 31, 2010 – Two men believed to be very close to alleged crime boss Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke were among nine people taken into custody when police and soldiers raided a house in an upscale community yesterday in search of the elusive fugitive.

The six men and three women were held in the same community where businessman Keith Clarke was killed a few days ago in a previous operation to execute a warrant of arrest on Coke, who is wanted in the United States of America on drug and gun running charges.

The law enforcement team went to the residence in Sterling Glades, Kirkland Heights, in the southeastern parish of St Andrew yesterday where they received information that Coke had been hiding since fleeing Tivoli Gardens. It is believed he escaped the area last week when members of the military and police force battled with gunmen to get into the West Kingston community to take him in.

As was the case in the Tivoli Gardens operation and the earlier Kirkland Heights attempt, the lawmen did not find Coke. 

However, along with the nine persons – all of whom have West Kingston addresses – they took a car and several documents from the house. Those captured are being questioned by police. 

Lawmen say that investigations into last Thursday’s operation in East Kirkland Heights that resulted in Clarke’s death are progressing well.

The 63-year-old brother of former People’s National Party (PNP) parliamentarian Claude Clarke died on the spot when security forces stormed his home. The soldiers had initially been at another house in the area and had been pursuing some men who opened fire on them, but somehow ended up at Clarke’s home and he was shot.

The shooting outraged Clarke’s friends and family, who say he was killed in front of his wife and child.

The Bureau of Special Investigations has been tasked by the Commissioner of Police to conduct an investigation into the incident.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the Chief of Defence Staff and Commissioner of Police said the conduct of the entire operation in East Kirkland Heights is being reviewed and security personnel involved in the incident have been withdrawn from frontline duties.

“The Police High Command wishes to assure, the family, relatives, friends and colleagues of Mr. Clark, and the entire nation, that a swift, thorough and professional investigation will be conducted into the matter, so that the truth will be exposed and appropriate action taken,” the statement added.

Meantime, of the 700 people who were detained during the joint police/military operation in West Kingston last week, 694 have been released.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force said that four of the six men who remain have not yet been processed. The other two are of interest to the police and will be further investigated.