(Jamaica Gleaner) The Jamaican police on Tuesday refused to commit to a criminal probe against Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, the west Kingston drug lord who pleaded guilty to narcotics and firearm-related charges in the United States (US) last week.
This comes despite what the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) – which called for the investigation yesterday – indicated was the “tremendous amount of information” in the hands of US prosecutors that could be accessed through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, however, would only say, “It is quite possible we will explore it.”
He added: “We have a responsibility to investigate all matters that come to our attention, using all the legal avenues available to us.”
However, Hinds, who heads the operations portfolio, cautioned that “information” does not always amount to evidence.
“Information is not evidence until a judge says it can be admitted as evidence,” he explained.
Making the call for the probe, PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting said this could prevent Coke from rebuilding his criminal organisation if he is released from prison early.
“If Coke were to be released after serving less than 10 years (like former Shower Posse leader Vivian Blake), would he be free to roam the streets of Kingston and rebuild his criminal organisation, or should the time be used to build other solid cases against him here?” he questioned.
Bunting, who was speaking during a press conference at the party’s Old Hope Road headquarters, said a structured review of information in the public domain on Coke’s case in the US would enable local law-enforcement personnel to reopen investigations into several cold cases.
He singled out claims made in court documents that US prosecutors were prepared to call witnesses to testify about crimes, including murders, committed by Coke or at his direction.
“Much of this evidence was gathered by the US utilising their Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to access information in Jamaica,” the PNP general secretary pointed out.
“So we should have some of this information already and we should have access to the balance of it if we have the political will,” Bunting added.
Coke is facing up to 23 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 8.