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Jamaican drug kingpin pleads guilty

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Christopher Coke, who prosecutors said led a violent international drug and arms trafficking enterprise, pleaded guilty Wednesday to racketeering conspiracy.

Coke, whose June 2010 arrest in Kingston, Jamaica, followed a battle between his supporters and police and military troops that left 73 people dead, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering before U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson in New York, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

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"For nearly two decades, Christopher Coke led a ruthless criminal enterprise that used fear, force and intimidation to support its drug and arms trafficking 'businesses,'" U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release. "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."

Coke, the Justice Department said, led the "Shower Posse" organization, also known as "Presidential Click."

Since the early 1990s, members of Coke's organization in the United States and other countries controlled the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in inner-city Kingston, guarded by gunmen, and trafficked drugs including marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine, the news release said. Members sent the proceeds back to Coke in Jamaica and supplied him with firearms they obtained in the United States, the release said.

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Coke, 42, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charge and three years on the conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering charge when he is sentenced Dec. 8.

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