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'Dudus' in drag: How accused Jamaican drug lord evaded arrest

June 28, 2010 |  7:48 pm

Chris duds coke cross dressing
When accused Jamaican drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke was finally arrested last week, authorities said he had evaded capture since last month's deadly clashes in West Kingston with the help of disguises. At the time of his arrest, The Times reports, "He was dressed like a woman and wearing a wig, police said."

The revelation that Coke moved about Jamaica disguised as a woman has sparked some discussion on the island about the nature and role of powerful "dons" in the broader society. Writing in the Jamaica Observer, columnist Chris Burns notes that while the image of Coke in a woman's wig is at first comical, it also reveals nagging social problems in Jamaica.

From his commentary, "Bad men seem to love women's wigs":

We would be fooling ourselves if we believe that crime and violence are not offshoots of deeper socio-psychological, emotional, economic and cultural struggles, such as poverty, low self-esteem, sexual struggles and repression, intolerance, poor parenting and socialisation, and emotional traumas from abusive homes and communities. Dudus, wittingly or unwittingly, might have opened up Pandora's Box to a greater solution to donmanship.

The writer Kei Miller, in a Facebook post titled "Bad men nuh dress like girl," points out some historical parallels:

This strange history of bad men dressing like girls actually stretches further back. Before there was Dudus, there was Natty Morgan. Natty also topped the charts of Jamaica’s Most Wanted and had been on the run, it seemed, forever and a day. For a while Natty had even lived across a swamp and many women would risk the deadly bites of alligators just to be with him on nights while he waited on the police to find him. After Natty was gunned down (having no pastor to protect him unfortunately) many a woman would come forward to testify that it was their frock that Natty had borrowed on this night or that ...

Coke was extradited to New York on Thursday and now faces multiple drugs and weapons charges. His lawyer told BBC Radio he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths in Tivoli Gardens, Coke's former stronghold neighborhood in Kingston. "Christopher 'Dudus' Coke is an unfortunate Jamaican who has gotten caught up in local political intrigue and international drama," said the lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson.

The Observer says that Coke faces an "uphill battle" against the charges.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photos: A previous mugshot of Christopher Coke, and his mugshot from last week's arrest. Credit: Reuters and Associated Press

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