Buju Banton convicted in trumped-up cocaine case

Singer Buju Banton found guilty in cocaine case

Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009, a verdict that elicited anguish and disbelief among supporters in a crowded courtroom and from other artists in his native Jamaica.

A federal jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days on the fate of Banton, who won a Grammy last week for best reggae album for his work entitled “Before the Dawn.” He was found guilty of three of four charges, and his attorney said he’s facing at least 15 years in prison.

The 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and the trial – his second over the drug accusations – was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked.

The tall, dreadlocked singer didn’t react when a clerk read the verdict on Tuesday. He stood, hugged his attorneys, then turned around and blew kisses to his supporters in the courtroom and told them: “Thank you.” A woman yelled out “We love you, Buju!” as U.S. marshals led him away.

“Obviously we are all upset and disappointed and emotional,” said Banton’s attorney, David Markus of Miami. “The only person who seems to be OK is Buju. He told us he was happy that he fought, knowing he was innocent.”

Markus said he plans to appeal the conviction and will file a motion to try to get Banton out of jail on bond in the meantime.

Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. He was acquitted of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

No date has been set for his sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston argued during trial that Banton portrayed himself as a broker of drug deals in several conversations with a confidential informant. Preston said Banton thought he was getting involved in a “no-risk” deal in which he would introduce a friend to a confidential informant, and then later collect money from drug transactions.

Prosecutors acknowledge that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal, nor did he ever profit from it. Markus said his client is “a big talker” who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn’t involved in any drug deal.

Much of the case hinged on meetings and phone calls that were video- and audiotaped by the informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration – and who made $50,000 in commission after the bust.

In one video, Banton could be seen tasting cocaine in a Sarasota warehouse on Dec. 8, 2009 – but he was not present during the actual drug deal on Dec. 10 that led two others to be arrested. Those two men later pleaded guilty.

Banton testified that that the informant badgered him after they met on a trans-Atlantic flight in July 2009 and insisted that they meet to set up a cocaine purchase. He said he was so uninterested in the informant’s proposals that after they met twice, Banton didn’t return the man’s phone calls for months.

In Banton’s native Jamaica, radio stations played his songs nonstop Tuesday, especially “Untold Stories” and “Not an Easy Road.”

Rapper Tony Rebel, a close friend who recorded with Banton, called it a sad day for young people who looked up to him.

The verdict marks “the saddest day for reggae and dancehall,” rapper Michael “Power Man” Davy said, adding he was “sad as a Rastaman and a Jamaican.”

Singer Junior Reid called it a conspiracy against reggae artists.

“With Buju gone, a big piece of reggae get chop off,” he said.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/22/2079012_jury-deliberations-resume-in-buju.html#storylink=addthis#ixzz1Ejy9ph5a

3 thoughts on “Buju Banton convicted in trumped-up cocaine case”

  1. This sounds like fbi and gay activists in cahoots to defame positive reggae musicians and positive reggae music. Suspicious set up in this accusation.

  2. Of course, the Banton was set up. Of course the FBI, battyboys (Jamaican and white), lesbians and their supporters conspired to ruin the life of a great artist because of a song he made when he was a young, up and coming artist. There is a homosexual, spyrotek2000, who hosts, the Banton’s video, ‘Boom, bye, bye’ on Youtube just to discredit Jamaicans and the Banton of course. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIUZlzd37sI Spyrotek2000 and his gay supporters even posts false statistics attacking Jamaica/Jamaicans. Of course we all know that one of the European’s favourite to instruments use to discredit any all aspect of Albekulan (Africa was named after a white, Roman homosexual, Africanus). And that is the difference between these white racist and other so called racist, whites resort to personal attacks and the use of science, politricks, statistics, medicine, philosophy, revisionist history and any means necessary to discredit the people of Albekulan. As far as racism is concerned, whites are the only ones who need to constantly put others down in order to feel good about themselves. Why does the superiority of the white man involve me an my people feeling poorly about ourselves?

    Whites are the only hatemongers I know of who obsess about people they hate. If I hate something or someone, I definitely would not write songs about them, make a point to go to websites where they flock to make disparaging remarks about them. I would not make websites (in the millions with at least one from all white countries), write books, make videos, form groups (maybe they are really groupies of black people???), write poems (the ballad of Malcolm X), form bands, spend millions if not billions on scientific research to discredit them. I do not like snake and choose to stay away from them. I do not have any obsessive ideas about snakes. For example,I do not like snake (ah fear) snakes and I would like to visit Australia but because there are a large amount of snakes in Australia, I have decided against it as I do not wish to encounter any snakes. I hope that makes sense. It is kind of sick to obsess over people or things you do not like, white people. All of the whites actions towards black people on the surface would seem like sick, obsessive love more than hate until you exam them. People often commit these acts towards things they like as in a favourite band, artist, actor and etc but certainly not for things you do not like. You even have racists joining Rastafarian movements, white racist taking up voodoo and other black religious practices, moving to mostly black countries in Africa and the Caribbean and still manage to remain racist. Sometimes I come across forums where I see so called white rastas (mostly North Americans) making negative remarks about Jamaicans and Jamaica being too violent for them. If that is the case, how and where did you come into the Rasta movement? Jamaicans and Rastas on a whole are some of the most positively, loving people on the planet. And you must understand, there is a huge difference between Rastas who have experience North American racism compared to the ones in Jamaica who have not. The people in Jamaica tend to be more naïve about racism than their more travelled counterparts. Hence, their loving nature towards everyone regardless of race. For example, I met a Jamaican man who was “fresh off the boat” and living in a southern state. He recalled to me an event where he said to a white southern woman, “Hey, fatty, gimme sum a you fat nujh?” and he was fired for doing some. Now, because I am Jamaican and of course I understand his remark in the context of culture, he was hitting on her. A fat Jamaican would not have been offended. If he like him, she would of flirted right back. In Jamaica, fat girls are called ‘fatty’ and Chinese are called Mr. and Miss Chin even if it happens to be a black person with Asian features he/she is Mr. or Miss Chin respectively and they are not offended. Besides, most of the Chinese who migrated to Jamaica more than 150 years ago, had the last name Chin. Of course in a North American culture, that is highly offensive.

    There are whites from around the world who travel to Jamaica and has had such positive experience that they either move to Jamaica or visit regularly. So I do not understand the ones who have never visited yet manage to become internet and newspapers travelers making disparaging remarks. I remember sitting a restaurant with my mother a few years back and the waiter we had was white and he started to relay the positively, loving experience he’s had with a Rasta in Jamaica to the point where he said because of that, he and the rasta man are friends and he makes a point to visit him each time he goes to Jamaica. He even went on to admit that due to his preconceived notion about race, he was terrified of this rastaman who came up to him with a machete and said, “Big bwoy you tirsty?” and proceeded to chop down a coconut from the tree for him. Jamaicans are no more scary than anyone else. Many Jamaicans are people positive meaning they know how to look beyond race and if they count you as one of their friends, they become crazily protective of you.

    Now, I have met a few people from other so called races who adopted so black religious practices and beliefs but they are doing so out of genuine love and interest in the people. One of the first experiences I had with a black movement was when I was in high school I attended a seminar facilitated by an Trinidadian Indian who said he was black and he was giving workships to lift us black students out of death and ignorance. I am only mentioning the man’s so called race for descriptive purposes. I really do not care how positive people who give off light identify because in my experience many of the non racist positive people I have met, did not conform to any racial ideologies and do not see me as a race. Most of those people are few and far between and they black, white, Asian Indian, Asian Orientals, Natives of Turtle Island and etc. and there are not very many of them – truly genuine humans (not just people) who look past skin colour. Just because it walks like a duck quack likes a duck, doesn’t mean it is a duck. By that I mean, there are not very many humans amongst us. Many people are either selfish, racist and/or greedy but not necessarily all of the above at the same time.

    In any event, if the Banton was accused of selling ganja, I would find that more believable. As a proud Jamaican who has a Rastaman for a father, I find the idea of a true Rastaman selling cocaine far fetched. The Banton was no fashion dread or pasta. After accepting Rastafarian beliefes and ideology, the Banton, is one of many who though were not raised as a Rastafarian took the religion seriously.

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