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Drug lord Christopher Coke pleads guilty to racketeering

A Jamaican drug kingpin described by US authorities as one of the world's most dangerous dealers has pleaded guilty to racketeering and assault charges, admitting his leadership in an international criminal organisation.

Christopher Coke entered the plea in the Manhattan District Court to charges that carry a potential penalty of 23 years in prison. Sentencing was set for 8 December.

Coke said he was the leader of the Presidential Click drug organisation, which authorities said had distributed drugs worldwide since 1994. A hunt for him last year in his West Kingston slum stronghold led to a confrontation that killed 73 civilians and three security officers over four days of fighting. Wearing a wig and travelling in a preacher's car, Coke was arrested by Jamaican authorities at a police checkpoint in June 2010 and extradited to the US.

Coke was well-known in Jamaica as a businessman, and reportedly handed out cash and school supplies to needy children and used his authority to punish criminals.

But US attorney Preet Bharara said: "He moved drugs and guns between Jamaica and the United States with impunity. Today's plea is a welcome conclusion to this ugly chapter of criminal history."