Buju Banton To Serve 10 Years Behind Bars
Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiring to set up a cocaine deal. Buju Banton, real name Mark Myrie, was found guilty in February of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, along with a further drug trafficking offence and a gun charge. This was shortly after Banton won Best Reggae Album at the Grammy’s for his record, 'Before The Dawn'...
Judge James S. Moody received many letters in support of the reggae artist, which were included in the court file for the 37-year-old. Several of his 15 children wrote letters, as did a former Jamaican government official, an NBA player and other reggae artists.
Someone else who wrote a letter was Danny Glover, in which the Hollywood actor called Buju Banton "a role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community." He went on to say: "Your honour, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer. Society would not benefit from his incarceration."
Banton was expected to serve 15 years in prison; however, he was acquitted of a gun charge, lowering his sentence from 15 to 10. He was also ordered to serve 5 years of probation once released from prison. Banton’s lawyer, David Markus, argued that he deserved a lower sentence due to limited input in the drug purchase, his charitable work and his otherwise clean record.
Banton's oldest son, also named Mark Myrie, wrote that his father "puts hard work, sweat and tears into his music and that is what he puts on the table, it has never been drugs." He continued by saying: "The situation is just an example of our mere imperfections as people, being at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Much of the case consisted of video and audio tape recordings acquired by an informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The informant was given $50,000 (£31,000) in commission after Banton was arrested, along with two others.
One video presented to the jury showed Banton tasting cocaine in a Florida warehouse on December 8 2009. However, he was not present during the actual drug deal on December 10, which led two others to be arrested. The two men later pleaded guilty to drug charges in the case.
Words: Melissa Quashie (@MelissaQ21)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)