Christopher "Dudus" Coke, the alleged Jamaican drug kingpin, was put on a plane with U.S. marshals after declining to fight his extradition to the U.S. on Thursday afternoon, according to several sources.
Coke did not contest the extradition, his lawyer said, because he wanted to leave his country immediately and face gun and drug charges in the United States.
Peter Bunting, general secretary of the opposition People's National Party, told CNN in an e-mail stamped 2:30 p.m. ET that Coke was at the airport awaiting to be transported to the United States, and a Jamaican Information Service report said he was flown off the island early in the afternoon. It was not clear to where he would fly, but the indictment against him was handed up in New York.
Coke released a statement through his lawyers saying he made the decision to be extradited despite his belief that he would have been vindicated by Jamaican courts.
"I take this decision for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of West Kingston, and in particular, the people of Tivoli Gardens and, above all, Jamaica," the statement said.
He further said he was "deeply upset and saddened" for many Jamaicans, including the security forces who were killed. The situation could have been avoided, Coke said in his statement asking that Jamaicans pray for him.
Regarding concerns that those loyal to Coke would stir up trouble, parliament member Peter Phillips, a former national security minister and senior member of the opposition, said there has been little unrest in West Kingston or Tivoli Gardens because the government declared a state of emergency last month and put troops in the streets.
Things have been quiet in West Kingston because of the “dislocation of the criminal groups that are able to mount some kind of resistance,” he said, referring to the weeks-long violence between government security forces and gunmen alleged to be loyal to Coke.
Affidavits from two confidential informants form the basis for charges that Coke, 41, has pumped cocaine and hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the United States.
One witness quoted in the affidavit said Coke used women to "body-carry," or smuggle internally, the cocaine and travel to New York under the guise of purchasing clothing for their shops in Kingston.
Coke's associates said they also sent him guns packed in refrigerators, according to documents CNN obtained.
Coke, who was known for controlling the impoverished West Kingston enclave of Tivoli Gardens, is likened by experts to both Robin Hood and Pablo Escobar. But comparisons to the hero of Sherwood Forest and the one-time Colombian kingpin are not mutually exclusive.
Coke rules via a combination of violence, corruption and philanthropy, experts say, and unrest in the Jamaican capital resulted from competing interests: those who want him handed over for drug crimes versus those who consider him a benefactor.
The opposition made allegations that the Jamaican government participated in shielding Coke from authorities. The prime minister and other have denied the allegations.
Phillips believes an investigative commission should be appointed to probe whether there was an effort by the ruling Labor Party to “prevent and frustrate the extradition request.” The opposition will call for such a commission, but Phillips said to expect other segments of society to join the opposition’s demand.
Jamaicans deserve to “understand the activities that took place and the apparent conduct of members of government on the political and the administrative side,” Phillips said. “We need to know if there was an attempt to obstruct justice on behalf of the government.”
“There are still questions left to be answered,” he said.