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Dudus tries to quash tapping evidence

Christopher “Dudus” Coke appeared in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday, seeking to quash wiretap evidence of gun-running and drug-dealing, weighing heavily into US authorities’ case against the Jamaican.

Coke faces charges of heading an international criminal organisation, the Shower Posse, that sold ganja and crack, and dealt firearms in and around the New York area, returning most of the profits to Kingston.

A narcotics conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years, and a maximum of life imprisonment and a US$4 million fine. The firearms charge carries a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of US$250,000, twice what he gained from the trade.

While a full trial is not expected until September, yesterday’s evidentiary hearing convened at 4pm, as attorneys for Mr Coke sought to persuade US district judge, Robert P. Patterson Jr to exclude wiretaps on Mr Coke’s telephone conversations with his US co-conspirators.

Coke attorney, Stephen Rosen, says the bugs, although approved by Jamaica’s Supreme Court, breached both Jamaica and US law because the justices were never told that the taps would be shared with the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Rosen and his team, which includes former Cayman Islands Grand Court Justice Priya Levers, argued earlier to unseal three affidavits from the Commissioner of Police, seeking permission for the bugs, but failing to tell the justices that US law enforcement would be party to the information. The taps, initially authorised in 2004, were subsequently renewed, all illegally, Mr Rosen says.

Prosecutors say the motion should be ignored because Mr Coke did not raise the argument before his June 2010 extradition from Kingston to New York, the culmination of a yearlong wrangle about the wiretaps.

In documents filed last Friday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Rosen points out that Mr Coke has never been charged with a crime in Jamaica and therefore could not have challenged the wiretaps.

He also refers to studies by both Jamaica’s Attorney General and a Commission of Enquiry that concluded the wiretaps were illegal.

Because the bugs formed the basis of Mr Coke’s August 2008 Grand Jury indictment, US prosecutors are relying on the information to convict him.

If the wiretaps are excluded, US prosecutors will be forced to rely on the testimony of long-term prisoners in US jails.

“They are all serving 20-year and 30-year sentences, and want them reduced in exchange: What find of credibility do they have?” Mr Rosen asked in an earlier statement.


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