The US justice department has him on its “world’s most dangerous” list. Jamaica’s former National Security Minister, Peter Philips, recently described him as probably the most powerful man in Jamaica.
The US sought his extradition last August to New York, where he is accused of organising deals in Marijuana and crack cocaine and funnelling the profits and weapons back to Jamaica.
Mr Coke, 40, would face life in prison if found guilty.
The request has greatly strained US-Jamaican relations.
The US authorities have been frustrated at the apparent foot-dragging by Jamaica’s government.
The extradition of Mr Coke threatens to further destabilise a country already rife with drugs-related violence.
Jamaican police believe Mr Coke’s alleged gang, the Shower Posse, has amassed a vast arsenal in his Kingston home turf, the tough district of Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli Gardens, in the west of the city, has been represented since 2005 by Prime Minister Bruce Golding. It is also a traditional stronghold of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
In an interview, Tom Tavares-Finson – his lawyer until recently, and a senator – said his client was a legitimate businessman, not a hardened gang leader.
Speaking to the Jamaica Observer in December, Mr Tavares-Finson said: “Nobody has heard of him being involved in any criminal activity.”
Mr Coke has many supporters in his west Kingston stronghold
He described Mr Coke as “just an ordinary Jamaican going about his everyday businessâ€¦ trying to improve the lot of his children, his family and his community, with a recognition that he has an influence, and he takes his influence very seriously, and that influence is what is propelling the transformation of western Kingston.”
Mr Tavares-Finson said people were turning his client into “a mythical character”. He added: “That is not his doing. Left to his own devices, he would not be on the front page of any newspaper.”
According to Jamaican media, Mr Coke is more like a “godfather” to Kingston residents – a benefactor providing the means for food and schooling.
Loyal residents have been taking to the streets in their hundreds to voice their support for the man they call the “president”, “general”, “shortman”, or most commonly “Dudus”.
“Jesus died for us so we will die for Dudus,” read one placard.
The Shower Posse
Mr Coke’s life has been racked by violence. Two of his brothers and a sister have been shot dead.
His father, Lester Coke, was a leader of the Shower Posse. He died in 1992 in a mysterious fire in his prison cell, while awaiting extradition to the US on drugs and murder charges.
The group is blamed for more than 1,000 murders in Jamaica and America during the 1980s.
It derives its name from “showering” communities with bullets, according to Michael Chettleburgh, a Toronto crime consultant.
“Don’t let the name mislead you. This is not a gang that is based out of Jamaica. The Jamaican Shower Posse is everywhere. There is no head office for this gang,” Mr Chettleburgh told Canadian media recently.