By: Admin_Mike14 Mar 2011
- Update in June 2011 - Buju was sentenced to 10 years which he will be serving near Miami - ed.
Grammy award winning Buju Banton faces 15 years in prison after he was found guilty for cocaine drug charges.
Mark Anthony Myrie is 37 and is much better known as Buju Banton - a Grammy award winner for best reggae album of the year, entitled “Before the Dawn.”
Banton was arrested December 10, 2009, in his Florida home. He is being charged with:
- conspiracy to obtain with intent to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine
- possessing a firearm during the commissions of the drug trafficking crime using communication facilities during the commissions of the drug trafficking
According to a report given by the DEA, Banton and two other individuals Ian Thomas and James Mack, were video taped in an undercover operation in Sarasota Florida on December 8, 2009. The recording revealed that the three were attempting to buy five kilos of cocaine for distribution. In the audio recording Banton asks government informant Alexander Johnson, “Do you have any contacts where I can get cocaine?"
The video also showed Banton and Johnson with a bag of cocaine. Johnson hands Banton a knife as he proceeds to cut open the bag and taste the product with his finger.
Johnson said in his testimony, that Banton introduced Thomas to him in a flight from Spain to Miami and starting talking about drugs early in the flight.
"He [Banton] told me he was involved in the transportation of drugs from Venezuela to St. Martin," Johnson said. Johnson also said that Banton just wanted to deal with finances; He wanted to give Johnson the money and have him buy and distribute the cocaine.
Buju Banton wanted only to deal with the financing of the cocaine transaction.
Ian Thomas and James Mack have already pleaded guilty and Thomas faces life in prison. It has been reported that Thomas may testify against Banton. Mack has already signed an affidavit on Banton's behalf. Mack stated that he had not met Banton prior to his arrest and that Banton had no idea about the money or gun in Mack’s car.
When Banton was found guilty of the charges, he stood and hugged his attorney David Oscar Markus and waved to his supporters. He acted with ease and dignity as they took him into custody Banton’s attorney wants to appeal in hopes to set a bail for Banton so he can continue to create music.
If Banton’s attorneys appeal fails, Buju Banton will most likely serve 15 years for his felony convictions.
This is not the first time Banton faces trial. In 2004 he was on trial in Jamaica for allegedly helping severally beat six gay men. The judge dropped the case because of insufficient evidence. A song released in 1992 “Boom Bye, Bye” has been in question about his homophobic opinions. The lyrics of the song advocate violent acts towards the gay community.
Many of his U.S. shows have been protested by gay activist groups and many have been successfully canceled. Banton claims that the song was about a boy getting raped by a man in Jamaica and that he does not own the rights to the song and receives no royalties from the song.