Jamaica's garrisons emerged in the 1970s when toughs in Kingston's poorest neighborhoods started turning out votes for one of Jamaica's two main political parties -- the People's National Party (PNP) or Mr. Golding's ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). They were given weapons and a free hand to run protection rackets in exchange, according to Laurie Gunst's 1996 book "Born Fi' Dead," about the rise of Jamaica's posses.
The Shower Posse in Tivoli has always delivered votes for the JLP, which is also part of Golding's parliamentary constituency. But when the cocaine transhipment business boomed in the late 70's and 80's, many gang leaders found they needed their political protectors less and less, the Shower Posse perhaps first among them. Money from eager US cocaine and crack consumers was pouring home, as were American guns purchased by gang associates living in the US. Many of the garrison leaders, known locally as "dons," became major power brokers in their own right.
So while politicians and gangsters still work closely in Jamaica, it's not as clear today who's in charge.
Golding had fought Coke's extradition for the better part of a year, though Jamaican analysts and opposition politicians still argue over whether it was out of fear or friendship.
On the one hand, Golding's party has profited from its relationship with the Tivoli dons for 30 years. On the other, Coke had warned he wouldn't be extradited without a fight. The prime minister would have been well aware of what happens when you try to extradite a Coke – or any Shower Posse leader, for that matter – to the US.