Latin America & Caribbean

Jamaicans hope for calm after "Dudus" arrest

After nearly a month on the run, speculation in Jamaica as to the whereabouts of Christopher "Dudus" Coke had died down.

Police and troops had raided his stronghold in Tivoli Gardens in May, killing 73 people, but Dudus had managed to evade them.

Then I received the call that Jamaica's most wanted man had been caught.

A call to the Jamaican Constabulary Force spokesman received a terse response. "Have you caught him?" I asked. "Yes" was the answer and the phone went dead.

The news spread like wildfire.

Moments later, the driver on the bus I was travelling on switched on the radio.

The newscaster read the top story, "Dudus arrested", and then from the passengers there was a whoop of shock, and then relief and surprise that he had been taken alive.

Many had feared a new outbreak of violence if he had been killed while evading capture.

High alert

Pictures of Dudus have stared out of Jamaica's papers for months, but his image on the front of Wednesday's editions show him looking very different.

He was wearing a disguise when he was caught, and he is pictured with his trademark beard shaved off and wearing a wig.

The police say they will now start the extradition process to the US, where he is wanted on drug trafficking charges.

Many Jamaicans want him to stand trial but they are worried that he might not make it.

Image caption Dozens of civilians were killed as police attempted to capture Dudus last month

His father, Lester Coke, who went by the street name of Jim Brown, was wanted by the US in the 1990s, accused of running the same gang as his son, the Shower Posse.

But he never made it across the Caribbean Sea, dying in a fire in a Jamaican jail cell.

The police are on high alert, but the country hopes that this period of insecurity is over.

A state of emergency was introduced after last month's violence has helped cut crime by 35% across the island, according to Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Shortly before Dudus' arrest, Mr Golding announced an extention of the special powers until 22 July.

He also extended the area covered to Spanish Town, where two gangs, One Order and Clansman, have been battling for control with devastating consequences for residents.

Locals hope Mr Coke's arrest might give political leaders the impetus to tackle the monster that crime has become here.

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