A handwritten letter sent from Jamaican druglord Christopher "Dudus" Coke to his trial judge, asking for leniency, offers some unique insights into the psyche of a major crime kingpin.
On September 7, Coke sent a letter to Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. asking for leniency, a copy of which was recently published by the New York Times.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the letter is its lack of any apology for his actions. Coke does not admit to any of the charges against him, or express regret, but merely relays his hopes for a reduced sentence. "I am humbly pleading for leniency and for your discretion,” Coke writes. “If it is possible for you to sentence me below the guideline range or if you could run my sentence concurrent, which would be greatly appreciated."
Among the reasons why the judge should reduce his sentence, Coke lists family troubles (his 8-year-old son “is constantly asking for his daddy”) and inhumane treatment (he was "unable to see outside” from his prison cell). Especially telling is his account of his community work in Jamaica. According to him, he was responsible for providing various “charitable deeds and social services” to his community, including an elderly care program, efforts to put “unskilled and skilled unemployed persons” to work, and a program that provided students with school supplies such as backpacks, books and uniforms.
Coke has been fingered as the leader of the Jamaican drug and arms smuggling group known as the Shower Posse, and is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges in a New York state court. Prior to turning himself in to authorities on June 22, 2010, Coke was one of the most successful and well-known drug kingpins in the country. He had been called the “don of dons,” and was regarded by some as the most powerful man in the country.
Indeed, when Jamaican police announced their intention to capture him in May 2010, Coke was able to turn much of Kingston into a virtual fortress. At least 73 people died in the resulting violence between security forces and his supporters in the city.
Such demonstrations of support for crime bosses are not unusual in the drug trafficking business, and social services like the ones Coke describes in his letter are often key to their success. This is modus operandi of drug bosses in Guatemala and the Familia Michoacana in Mexico, who are able to organize entire communities around their business, and sometimes rally protests in support of their leaders.
(Picture, above, shows Coke in the female disguise he was wearing when caught by police.)