Expose on Coke’s extradition
Al Jazeera English has a wonderful, probing video essay on the extradition of Christopher Coke from Jamaica and the surrounding violence that shook the island in May. It highlights many of my concerns with the process — especially the potentially destabilizing effect of removing a man responsible for bringing Kingston’s poor some semblance of security (if tenuous) and development (albeit heavily dependent on illegal proceeds).
One issue the AJE piece doesn’t seriously explore is the extent of violence enacted by Coke and his “Shower Posse.” The DEA calls Coke “one of the world’s most dangerous narcotics kingpins.” What does this really mean, though? Well, Coke is on the Justice Department’s list of Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs), a “unified agency target list of international ‘command and control’ drug traffickers and money launderers.” The indictment (link here) charges Coke with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, marijuana and firearms.
Does that really make him the most dangerous, though? More fundamentally, does his extradition serve the long-term interests of the US and Jamaica in rule of law, development and citizen security? Or rather create instability and insecurity while leaving the structural conditions upon which Coke’s empire is based untouched? I have serious doubts.