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'Drug lord' pleads not guilty in US
Christopher "Dudus" Coke appears in court after being flown from Jamaica.
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2010 04:28 GMT
Coke is accused of distributing cocaine and marijuana throughout the eastern US [Reuters]

An alleged Jamaican drug lord has denied charges that he ran a massive smuggling ring in the United States from his home on the Caribbean island of Jamaica.

Christopher "Dudus" Coke entered the plea during a brief appearance at a federal court in New York on Friday, shortly after being extradited from Jamaica.

Prosecutors say Coke conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana throughout the eastern US for more than 15 years.

Court papers said that drug dealers in the US regularly sent "cash and goods, including clothing and electronics to Coke as 'tribute' payments, in recognition of his leadership and assistance".

The tributes also included firearms, court papers said.

Asked by Robert Patterson, a US district judge, whether he understood the charges, the defendant replied, "Yes, sir."

Frank Doddato, Coke's lawyer, told reporters that the defence team would fight the charges and not even concede "the time of day" to the prosecution.

Coke faces life in prison if convicted.

Captured

Coke, the alleged leader of the so-called "Shower Posse" gang, was captured by police at a road checkpoint on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica's capital, on Tuesday.

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He agreed to be extradited to the US on Wednesday.

Before his capture and extradition, Jamaican security forces battled his armed supporters in the Tivoli Garden slums of the capital.

The four days of clashes killed 76 people, mostly civilians.

In a statement released to the news media - his first public comments since the US requested his extradition in August - Coke said he was deeply saddened by the lives lost in the fighting.

Coke's statement said he hoped his agreeing to be extradited would help Jamaica heal.

"I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of western Kingston and in particular the people of Tivoli Gardens and above all Jamaica," he said.

He expressed confidence that he will be found innocent and allowed to return to his family in Jamaica, saying he was leaving his mother in particular with a heavy heart.

Source:
Agencies
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