Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 14:37 UK

Jamaica to extradite drug suspect

Prime Minister Bruce Golding
Mr Golding addressed the nation on Monday to express his regret

The Jamaican government says it will extradite to the US a man suspected of running a notorious Jamaican drug gang.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said Christopher "Dudus" Coke would be sent to New York to face charges of drug and gun trafficking.

The decision reversed months of opposition to his extradition.

Shops and schools closed early in parts of the capital said to be controlled by Mr Coke's alleged gang, amid fears of trouble.

Apologies and regret

Mr Coke, 41, is accused of being the leader of the Shower Posse, which US authorities say runs an international drugs and guns network thought to span the US and Canada.

The gang is believed to control Tivoli Gardens, an area of the capital, Kingston, which Mr Golding represents in parliament.

Last week, the prime minister admitted his party had sanctioned the hiring of a Los Angeles-based law firm suspected of lobbying Washington on behalf of Mr Coke.

He had long denied any knowledge of the firm's hiring. But in a TV statement on Monday night, Mr Golding apologised to the nation.

"In hindsight, the party should never have become involved in the way that it did and I should never have allowed it, but I must accept responsibility for it and express my remorse to the nation."

For nine months, Mr Golding had argued that Mr Coke should not be extradited because the evidence against him had been obtained illegally by intercepting mobile phone calls.

The United States insists the extradition request "was properly prepared and submitted".

The prime minister said he had offered his resignation, but that his party had not accepted it.

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