Reggae Great Buju Banton Is Locked Up on Drug Charges. Was He Entrapped?

Then, on the third day of the trial, Buju waived his Fifth Amendment right and sat in front of the jury to emphatically declare his innocence.

"I had no intention of doing a drug deal, from the sincerity of my heart," Buju said. "I was just talking, drinking with this guy, talking, talking because that's what he always talks about. Now I know he was doing it with a motive in mind."

He told the jury that he had never been to Venezuela, had never seen $50 million in his life, and had no idea that he was going to see cocaine when he drove out to Sarasota. He said he talked the talk but did not walk the walk. He acknowledged that the transcripts and recordings looked bad, though, and apologized repeatedly.

"I'm very ashamed of myself. I'm very ashamed of myself for behaving in that manner, and I feel like I'm receiving a public flogging, and I'm readily accepting.

"It's my faith that keep me sitting here now, 'cause I'm an innocent man," Buju said.


After closing arguments, Buju, with his manager and legal team, gathered in an empty dining room at a Courtyard Marriott. Everyone looked worn. Buju, knowing that he could be sentenced to life in prison the next morning, sneaked a stiff drink from a plastic juice bottle. He told Markus he'd better visit when all this is over — in Jamaica or jail — and reiterated his innocence. The few sips of whatever was in that bottle made his tongue loose. He started mixing metaphors, rambling about gods coming down from a mountain for a day of judgment. It was a firsthand demonstration of how little the man could drink.

"I'll take anything but guilty," Markus said, his head cocked toward Buju.

"Will you charge for a third trial?" Buju asked, cracking a smile and prompting everyone at the table to explode with laughter.

The next morning, a Friday, the jurors marched into deliberation. Their debate stretched over President's Day Weekend and into late Tuesday afternoon.

Buju was found guilty on three of the four charges, including using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. Ian Thomas and James Mack, the two men who were actually on the phones and caught trying to buy kilos at the Sarasota warehouse, never even faced this charge. They got four and six years, respectively, through plea deals. Buju was sentenced to ten years.

The "Voice of Jamaica" is now silenced, confined to a cell in the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, where he is one year into his sentence. His Tamarac duplex has been foreclosed on, and his community in Jamaica no longer has its one-man social service. His last-ditch hope is that an appeals court in Atlanta throws out his case due to one of the nearly ten issues raised in his appeal, ranging from entrapment to prosecutorial vindictiveness. But that could take another year at least.

Meanwhile, Alex Johnson is free to wander the world in pursuit of his next target. His life goes on behind his gated community. He is dragging out his fight with the IRS so he'll never have to pay a dime in taxes on the millions he earned by urging other people to commit crimes.

Chris.Sweeney@BrowardPalmBeach.com

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23 comments
juanitajefferson31
juanitajefferson31

I hope you get out soon to come rock concert in new orleans i love you buju im supporting you.

pheelingphine
pheelingphine

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.  

Duncan 23
Duncan 23

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.

God's Gay-lesbian Children
God's Gay-lesbian Children

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.

Chris_SLOB_BOY
Chris_SLOB_BOY

Of course it's entrapment ! Dude's never smoked a single joint in his life, probably doesn't even know what drugs are.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

Idiot should have accepted the two year deal that he was offered as a plea bargain.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

You can bet this was not the first cocaine deal that BB was involved in. 

Alan
Alan

Buju Banton is a murderous homophobe. I hope he rots in prison.

FQS9000
FQS9000

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.   

oOBlackHandOo
oOBlackHandOo

I don't know if he was and I don't care.... I can't wait to read the headline where he is dead.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

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.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

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.

Magickstikk7
Magickstikk7

u must be a homo, how you hope someone rote in hell when they were not convicted yet. I think your GAY

sprecks
sprecks

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.

Guest
Guest

 Well, yeah, God is just, which is why she has put buju behind bars.

A_lewis2904
A_lewis2904

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.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

He isn't in jail for incitement to murder. He is in jail because he was heavily involved in drugs trafficking.

oOBlackHandOo
oOBlackHandOo

 I got some bad news for you, sunshine... Hair lip hell and half of Georgia, there aint' a chance of that ghetto trash being in my family or friend...

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

There is no concrete evidence that he was 'heavily involved' in drug trafficking. The issue here is that his so-called betheren said whatever to get a lesser sentence and the government sent their paid informant to make sure Buju got locked up for drugs any way possible.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

Be careful what you wish for others b/c it will most likely happen to you first and it will be ten times worse.

 
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