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Desperate 'Dudus' looks to PNP for help

Published:Sunday | June 6, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Soldiers searched Kenneth 'Skeng Don' Black's house for two hours, but nothing was found. - File

The search for public enemy number one, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, has turned to communities and individuals linked to the Opposition People's National Party (PNP).

It is widely believed that Dudus - a lifelong supporter of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) - is being provided sanctuary by persons aligned to his traditional political rivals, hence, the security forces have reportedly shifted their focus in their continuing bid to nab him.

On Friday, the search took the security forces to the central Manchester home of well-known PNP activist Kenneth 'Skeng Don' Black.

For almost two hours, the police and soldiers searched the premises, but left without Dudus.

Skeng Don is a PNP power broker in central Jamaica who, like Dudus, operates a construction company which has benefited from several government contracts.

While the contracts have dried up since the JLP assumed the reins of power in 2007, Skeng Don remains an influential figure in inner-city communities islandwide. His reputation has made its way into Jamaica's folklore, and has earned him the respect of community leaders and dons on both sides of the political divide.

Park Lane residents picked up

Also on Friday, 10 men in the Park Lane community off Red Hills Roads, St Andrew, were picked up by the police in connection with the Tivoli affair.

Hints that PNP strongholds would not be overlooked in the Dudus hunt were concretised with the calling in of several alleged PNP area leaders: Donovan Ainsworth, otherwise called 'Pepsi', who operates in central Kingston; Danhai Williams and Michael 'Bissi' Murray from east Kingston; Tesha Miller and former PNP candidate Rohan Silvera of the feared Clansman gang which operates out of St Catherine; and Michealous 'Zeekie' Phipps, who frequents Matthews Lane.

"There are two PNP communities in the Corporate Area where Dudus and the current dons are very close, and those areas supported Tivoli during the recent assault," The Sunday Gleaner was told yesterday.

"It was just that 'Presi' know seh a dem place deh him would have to cool out, and him never want the police dem a notice dem area deh. That is why no shot never fire pon the police dem," a Sunday Gleaner source said.

At least two strong PNP communities in east Kingston, the source said, could be easily used as hideouts for the man known on the streets as 'Dudus', 'Bossy' and 'Presi'.

"One of the communities is a perfect choice because the area provides a lot of cover and it is very difficult for the security forces to corner it."

The claim is not being ignored by the security forces. According to the lawmen, on any given day since the incursion, they receive in excess of 50 calls from persons claiming to know where the hunted don is hiding.

"We know that Dudus could be hiding in a PNP area; we are not ruling anything out," a senior cop said.

"This search will take us any and everywhere, because we are convinced that he is still in the island."

On the run for two weeks

Dudus has been on the run for almost two weeks, after he rejected entreaties from the police to turn himself in.

He is wanted to face extradition proceedings after law-enforcement officials in the United States charged him with illegal drugs and gunrunning.

Coke had barricaded himself in his west Kingston enclave of Tivoli Gardens but escaped while his street militia engaged members of the security forces in a bloody gun battle.

It is believed that he left Tivoli Gardens about 2 that Monday afternoon while members of the security forces were still trying to seal the entrances and exits to the community.

Sources on the streets tell The Sunday Gleaner that when it became apparent that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was prepared to unleash a never-before-seen tactical assault on Tivoli, Dudus and some of his heavily armed lieutenants dashed through Christopher Road, into Denham Town, across into Rema and up into Rose Town.

From there, the heavily armed gang members, with high-powered rifles at the ready, were picked up and transported to a central Kingston community, before moving on to another safe haven.

Foot soldiers at the bottom of the gang structure were ordered to hold the security forces at bay by engaging heavily armed and better-trained members of the JDF in running gun battles so that Coke and his men could escape.

As soon as the security forces took control of the community and determined that Dudus was neither among the dead nor the detained, they tapped into their intelligence network and rushed to the areas where his key business associates were known to live.

This took them to Plantation Heights, St Andrew - where Coke is believed to have a house; Greater Portmore, St Catherine; and Kirkland Heights, also in St Andrew, where a key business partner and at least one family member reside.

Two men, believed to be key lieutenants in the criminal enterprise run by Dudus, were among eight persons arrested during the second operation in Kirkland Heights.

In the first foray by the security forces in the community, businessman Keith Clarke was killed inside his house under controversial circumstances.

'The Jamaica Defence Force was prepared to unleash a never-before-seen tactical assault on Tivoli'