Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding has denounced unrest in the capital city Kingston as a "calculated assault on the authority of the state".
He vowed that criminals would not triumph, after supporters of an alleged druglord took to the streets to stop him from being arrested.
One police station was set on fire and two others shot at by suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
The authorities have declared a state of emergency in parts of Kingston.
The trouble began late last week when the authorities announced they would arrest and extradite Mr Coke to the US.
His supporters set up barricades and said they would fight to protect him.
The BBC's Nick Davis in Montego Bay says the capital now represents a city under siege.
Troops and police have come under fire, and smoke is rising from the burning police station.
Christopher "Dudus" Coke is accused of being a gang leader
Mr Golding said security forces would be "moving swiftly to bring the current situation under control".
"Criminal elements bent on violence and mayhem will be detained," he said in a televised address.
"What is taking place is a calculated assault on the authority of the state that cannot be tolerated, and will not be allowed to continue."
A state of emergency allowing police to conduct searches without a warrant and restrict movement was put in place in West Kingston and St Andrew districts, where the violence broke out.
The government said the measures would be in place for at least a month.
Jamaican PM vows 'decisive action'
The areas are a stronghold of support for Mr Coke, 41, who says he is a community leader.
Our correspondent says Mr Coke's supporters see him as a man who is fulfilling a role that the government does not, such as giving them money to support their children.
Because of that he has a huge amount of support in the area, our correspondent adds.
Police have called for his surrender and have described the barricades surrounding his area a sign of "cowardice", the Associated Press news agency reported.
The US Justice Department says Mr Coke is one of the world's most dangerous drug barons. He is accused of leading a gang called the Shower Posse - owing to the volume of bullets used in shootings - and operating an international smuggling network.
Some residents have protested in defence of Mr Coke
He faces a life sentence if he is convicted on charges filed against him in New York.
The gang has also been blamed for numerous murders in Jamaica and the US.
Prime Minister Golding said earlier this week that he was prepared to send Mr Coke to the US on drugs and weapons trafficking charges.
The decision reversed nine months of opposition to his extradition.
Mr Golding had argued that the evidence against Mr Coke was obtained illegally by intercepting mobile telephone calls.
But he changed his mind in the face of growing public discontent, and questions about his possible ties to Mr Coke.
He apologised to the nation and admitted he had mishandled the case.
The US and UK have warned travellers about possible violence and disorder in Kingston because of the situation.
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