I'm a nice guy, says Jamaican gangster Christopher Coke

 

Spare a thought for the drug barons. They might murder, kidnap, and even dismember rivals with a chainsaw. But that doesn't mean they're all bad.

So says Christopher "Dudus" Coke, the Jamaican gangster who is behind bars in New York, having pleaded guilty to racketeering charges which carry a maximum jail sentence of 23 years.

Coke, who confessed to smuggling at least three tonnes of marijuana and thirty pounds of cocaine to the US, has sent a seven-page letter to the man in charge of deciding his fate, a judge called Robert P Patterson Jr.

"Good day to you, sir," it begins. "I am humbly asking if you could be lenient." The letter goes on to list no less than 13 reasons why Coke, 42, should be spared jail.

Among them is the effect it would have on his family. Coke recently lost his elderly mother ("on her deathbed, she was crying and kept calling my name,") and has an eight year-old son traumatised by his arrest. "He is constantly asking for his Daddy," the letter explains. "He cries all the times."

Then there is Coke's commitment to charity work in Jamaica. "I was involved in community development, where I implemented a lot of social programmes," he writes. "I also host a lot of charity events annually."

He provides impoverished local children with "back to school" kits, hosts a "community jamboree" each November, sponsors sports teams, runs youth clubs, helps the unemployed, founded a school and, like any good citizen, sits on a Parent Teacher Association.

Whether that will sway Justice Patterson remains to be seen. Prosecutors say Coke "moved drugs and guns between Jamaica and the US with impunity," and is guilty of hundreds of murders. They say that in one notorious case, Coke killed a man who stole from him with a chainsaw.

Efforts to arrest Coke last June saw his private army turn the slums of Kingston into a war zone. Three police officers and 73 civilians were killed, during four days of fierce fighting. Coke was later extradited to the US.

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