The father of Christopher `Dudus' Coke -- at the center of a deadly gun battle in Kingston -- found a fertile ground in Miami in the 1980s for his criminal activities.
It was 1988 and Lester Lloyd Coke's Shower Posse -- a notorious Jamaican drug gang -- was deep into gun and drug running. He was wanted in a South Florida courtroom to answer to murder and drug charges, but never made it to Miami to stand trial.
Now, two decades later, another Coke is accused of running the Shower Posse.
It's Lester's son, Christopher ``Dudus'' Coke, the man wanted for extradition by the U.S. on drug and weapons charges and the object of a manhunt that has touched off a bloody battle between Jamaican authorities and his supporters in Kingston. The government announced last week that the violence had claimed 73 lives.
``All of this old stuff is coming up again,'' said Len Cartor, a former Miami-Dade police sergeant who worked in the department's warrants bureau and arrested the father, also known as Jim Brown, in the 1980s.
Though the father has been dead for 18 years, there's still a painting of him in Tivoli Gardens, where some of the fiercest fighting between government troops and gunmen loyal to Christopher Coke took place last week. It reads: ``Legend Jim Brown, don of dons.''
The violence that erupted in Jamaica has its roots in 1980s Miami, when Jamaicans and Colombians were the soldiers in the cocaine wars, say those who worked to put them behind bars.
Under Lester Coke, the Shower Posse -- so-named because it rained bullets down on rival gangs -- was centered in Jamaica, but its tentacles reached far into the United States
``It seemed like Miami was their secondary base of operations,'' said retired Miami-Dade police Sgt. Kevin Dougherty, who tracked Coke while working with MDPD's Warrants Bureau.
Coke was well-known to Jamaican law enforcement and was an activist in the Jamaica Labour Party long before he was indicted in 1988 along with dozens of others by a federal grand jury.``It was a whole gun-running and drug-running operation going up and down the East Coast,'' said Andrew Reich, an assistant U.S. attorney who handled the case. ``Coke was one of the lead players.''
Then, as now, the gangs enjoyed backing from political parties on the island.
``Tivoli Gardens residents looked to Jim Brown for leadership,'' said David Rowe, who represented Vivian Blake, a Shower Posse leader indicted with Coke. ``He was a well-known and notorious enforcer and that reputation followed him. He was always hounded by federal authorities when he was here. Once they became aware of the activities of the Shower Posse, Jim Brown was always under some degree of scrutiny.'
Rowe, who never met father or son, said there appears to be a difference in leadership styles between the two men.
``The father was a little more abrasive, prominent individual,'' said the Jamaican-born Rowe, an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami and an extradition expert. ``The son is a better educated person, and he's quiet.''
In the summer of 1985, a U.S. Marshals' task force was searching for dangerous fugitives in the Miami area. The Jamaican government had put out wanted flyers for Lester Coke, sought in the ``mass murder'' of 12 in May 1985 in Kingston. He was also sought in two other shootings.
That July 17, Doughtery got a tip that led authorities to a house in the Norland neighborhood in northern Miami-Dade County. A morning drive by the house revealed that a 5'10, 240-pound man believed to be Coke was inside.
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