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'Dudus' gang invested in weapons and explosives, says former commish

Published:Tuesday | April 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington at the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, yesterday.

THE NATION'S former police chief yesterday revealed that in the last decade, the west Kingston-based 'Shower Posse', or 'Presidential Click' gang - under the direction of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke - "invested" in a stockpile of firepower that made it a significant threat to the State.

Ellington said police intelligence shows that the gang made significant investments in an arsenal of weapons that included 50-calibre rifles, shoulder-mounted weapons, as well as explosives after a deadly firefight in 2001 between members of the security forces and thugs loyal to Coke in the west Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens.

"This represented a shift away from stand-off single-target weapons to group-target weapons, which was new and significant in terms of how criminals were arming themselves in Jamaica," said Ellington, who was giving evidence before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry.

He said that the level of investment, coupled with the high level of organisation displayed by the 'Presidential Click', made it a "non-traditional, insurgency level" threat to the authority of the State way beyond the capabilities of any other criminal gang operating across the island.

"None [of them] were on the scale of the Tivoli Gardens gang. The Clans [Clansman] and One Order gangs would be the two in the wings that would pose a significant threat, but they were not as organised as the Tivoli Gardens gang," Ellington told the three-member panel.

"They didn't make the kind of social investment in communities as the Tivoli Gardens gang did - buying loyalties and actually appearing to operate like a state within a state," he underscored.


guns not for police


The Sir David Simmons-chaired panel is looking into the conduct of the security forces during the May 2010 operations to capture Coke, who was then a fugitive wanted by United States authorities on drug and firearms charges. More than 70 persons were killed in the operations.

Ellington testified that in the days before the operations, the police got reports that an aircraft carrying a shipment of guns landed at the Vernamfield airstrip in Clarendon shortly before midnight.

"Just to be clear, those were not guns for the police force?" asked attorney for the Jamaica Defence Force Peter Champagnie during cross-examination.

"Our shipments [of firearms] are not delivered in that way," responded Ellington, who admitted that he heard the report sometime after the incident.

The retired commissioner also confirmed that the United States government did apply the Leahy Amendment Act against the Jamaican police, arising from concerns about human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

He was responding to questions from attorney-at-law Jacqueline Samuels Brown, who is representing popular pastor the Reverend Al Miller, about a June 17, 2013, letter he wrote to National Security Minister Peter Bunting.

Reading from the letter, the attorney pointed out that the former commissioner had expressed concerns that the application of the Leahy Act by the US would have adverse implications for the Jamaican police.

She asked him to explain what those adverse implications were.

The former police commissioner responded by saying that the action results in, among other things, the withdrawal of funding and technical support.

Pressed for further details, Ellington declined to disclose any further information.

The Leahy Amendment Act is a US human rights law that prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.