By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
But Buju and his defense attorney swore the singer was just a boaster who talked a good game. Markus set out to destroy the credibility of the government's star witness, Alex Johnson. For that, he had plenty of ammunition.
Johnson was born in Colombia in October 1949. "This con artist, Alexander Johnson, imported thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana into this country in the '80s and '90s. Not a little here, a little there. Thousands," Markus explained to the jury in his opening statement.
At the time, Johnson operated under the street name "El Gordo" and worked as a transporter for the Colombian cartels. Then, in 1993, U.S. authorities arrested him while he was trying to import 700 kilos. Facing life in prison and overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Johnson decided to cooperate. He was able to get the sentence reduced to 20 years, but that was still too long for his liking. So he pointed his finger at others and got another ten years knocked off. Then, after serving fewer than three years, Johnson convinced the feds that he would be of greater use on the outside. He walked from prison in 1996, getting his probation waived in the process. Johnson was a free man with a new job title: confidential informant.
He has excelled as a CI, working for the DEA, the FBI, and other national and local law enforcement agencies. Johnson isn't paid a salary for this gig; rather, he gets a cut of the money seized in the busts he arranges. It's like a commission, and he has earned nearly $3.5 million in commission — enough to buy a plush home with a swimming pool for $890,000 within a secured, gated community in Davie.
"Now, you will hear when people make money and when they work, they pay taxes. Not Alex Johnson... He owes almost $200,000 to the IRS," Markus said to the jury. "Alex Johnson isn't going to pay the IRS, isn't going to pay his mortgage, isn't going to pay his credit cards. You know what Alex Johnson did? Filed for bankruptcy last year."
Markus noted that the snitch earned $50,000 for the Buju bust. He then revealed that Johnson isn't a U.S. citizen and will never be one. Immigration and Customs Enforcement permanently barred him from obtaining citizenship because of his felony conviction. But he can't go back to Colombia because of a potential bounty on his head for snitching, so he got the DEA to request that ICE not deport him. Unless he keeps bringing in cases, there's little incentive for ICE to keep good on its favor.
Markus isn't the first to uncover these flaws. About a decade ago, Johnson had set up a young man by the name of Andrew W. Smith on a cocaine deal. Smith did not fight the accusations. In a lengthy sentencing hearing, the judge on the case, Ann Aldrich, blasted the government's reliance on Johnson.
"The court found Mr. Johnson's testimony not to be entirely truthful based upon Mr. Johnson's extensive criminal history, his career of defrauding others, his financial incentives to provide testimony favorable to the government, and his demeanor during his testimony," Aldrich said. "In fact, the jury declined to believe Johnson's testimony that Mr. Smith possessed cocaine. The court, like the jury in this case, has no reason to take Mr. Johnson's word over Mr. Smith's."
In Buju's case, the judge blocked this tidbit from entering his courtroom. The jury would also never learn that the prosecutor and the informant have been working together for at least a decade and have never lost a case. (Prosecutors did not respond to interview requests for this article.)
In court, Johnson wore a tan-on-tan suit. He incessantly stroked his chin and cleared his throat, keeping his answers as short as possible.
"You made more as a confidential informant than you did as a drug trafficker, right?" Markus asked.
"Yes," Johnson said.
"You wanted [Buju] to have another glass of wine, didn't you?" Markus asked, discussing the meeting at Bova Prime.
"Yes," Johnson said.
"Why?" Markus pressed in a biting tone.
"It's part of the game I'm playing there," Johnson said.
"This isn't a game, is it? This is a man's life," Markus wailed, sparking murmurs throughout the courtroom.
When DEA Special Agent Dan McCaffrey took the stand, he acknowledged that the agency never produced a single piece of evidence to prove Buju's boasts that he had previously moved drugs from Venezuela or invested in coke deals. In fact, the government did not bother to search his home, bank accounts, computers, or text messages after arresting him. McCaffrey also explained that getting Buju into the warehouse without ever mentioning that he would be seeing kilos was a strategic move called a "flash show" that's used to mitigate the chances of snitches getting robbed.
First-year law students skipped class at Stetson University to watch the trial unfold, and prayer circles echoed through the courthouse corridor. Stephen Marley, who put his house on the line to spring Buju from lockup between trials, testified as a character witness that Buju is a born braggadocio, a toaster who would try to outtalk anyone, no matter the topic. Reporters on assignment from Jamaica sprinted out of the building during recess to file stories on their BlackBerrys.
And what most of you don't understand,is that Buju is from a completely different culture then in the US,also in the Rastafarian Religion Homosexuality is the worst thing.When he wrote "Boom Boom" he was like 17 and there had been a horrific crime committed against a child,he was brutally raped and murdered by a man,and Buju was angry over that specific case when he wrote that song,and has paid dearly for it in the entertainment industry.
It seems obvious to me that the government or an official in it really wanted Buju Arrested. There methods seem vindictive. It reminds me of Hoover actively seeking to find dirt on Malcom Z and Martin Luther King in attempt to nullify their influence and standing in the communities that they served.
This article is shameful.It's clear that the writer is a huge fan of Buju's and has a man-crush on him. Whatever.
Buju never apologized for calling for the death, torture and mutilation of god's gay-lesbian children. His management claims he did, because they know how shameful what he did was. But he has not, which is why there is no link, no video, no audio of the apology.
Nor has he apologized for the way that his song has become a global symbol of hatred and violence against innocent gay people. If Buju were a man, he would own up to what he did, and actually apologize.
Buju is in jail because of karma--he is making amends for the hurt and pain his music has sowed, including for the song that defines his legacy, Boom ByeBye. I believe in redemption, but he played the song as recently as 2006, so he has to repent before he can be redeemed.
He did clear up any misconceptions about the song and stated that it should not be taken literally. The problem here is that the groups opposing Buju wanted him to put up money and go against his beliefs. How is donating money to your cause going to help people change their beliefs on the issue? It seemed greedy and baseless to me, but I digress.
You are not a supporter of Buju, but there are many people who love and respect Buju because he's a legend and 'Boom Bye Bye' is only a brief snapshot in the career of this man. He has made countless songs uplifting the poor and ghetto people, but foreigners only want to focus on the negative and that's sad.
Of course it's entrapment ! Dude's never smoked a single joint in his life, probably doesn't even know what drugs are.
He either was innocent or really felt as though he could win (which is what almost happened in the first trial). In retrospect that would have been better for him, but everyone knows that the system throws plea bargaining at innocent people and offenders as a means of getting out of doing their job.
u must be a homo, how you hope someone rote in hell when they were not convicted yet. I think your GAY
So because he don't like people like you who mix their dick with shit, he should be in prison? Since when does a persons dislikes equate to a crime worthy of imprisonment? You are an idiot.
He isn't in jail for incitement to murder. He is in jail because he was heavily involved in drugs trafficking.
A classic case of too many Feds with too much money desperately seeking an easy conviction to justify their fat paychecks.
The root cause here is too many taxes and too many bureaucrats.
For the Gay ones that oppose Buju.....don't hate. He has done you no wrong. He is a man just as any of us and he was wronged by the Government that we follow. Judge a man from his first breath, to his last. One song doesn't make him an evil person. Just to clear the air, i'm not a homophobic person. It's your choice. Just treat the situation like you would if he was a friend or family member.