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Category: Buju Banton

Buju Banton gets 10 years in prison for cocaine trafficking

Buju Banton sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

Buju Banton was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of three counts related to cocaine trafficking.

The reggae performer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, has been in custody since his arrest in December 2009 in Miami after he allegedly attempted to buy a large amount of cocaine from an undercover officer. He could have been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

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

The convictions came less than two weeks after Banton, a previous Grammy nominee, won a Grammy Award for best reggae album, "Before the Dawn."

Banton can't record music while in prison, according to the Jamaica Gleaner, but will be allowed to keep his dreadlocks and practice his Rastafarian faith.

RELATED:

Buju Banton arrested on a federal drug charge

More details emerge in the Buju Banton drug case

Mistrial declared in reggae singer Buju Banton's drug case

-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Buju Banton performs in L.A. in 2006. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times


Buju Banton convicted on cocaine charges, faces at least 15 years

Buju Banton convicted Buju Banton, the Grammy-winning Jamaican reggae singer, was convicted Tuesday in a Florida court on three of four federal drug charges. He faces at least 15 years in prison.

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

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was arrested in a Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation in Miami in December 2009. He attempted to buy cocaine from an undercover officer, police said at the time. A mistrial was declared when the case first went to trial in September.

"Our life and our destiny are sometimes pre-destined and no matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight," Banton said Tuesday in a statement read by his lawyer, the Jamaica Observer reports. "It was a great man that said my head is bloody but still unbowed I love you all thank you for your support."

In Banton's native Jamaica, radio stations played his songs nonstop Tuesday, especially "Untold Stories" and "Not an Easy Road." Markus, who said Banton will appeal, will try to get his client out on bail in the meantime.

The jury deliberated for 11 hours on the cocaine-related charges, acquitting Banton of attempted possession with the intent to distribute, but finding him guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.

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Buju Banton bail ruling put on hold for a week

Buju-banton-2003 Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton, jailed since his arrest last December on suspicion of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, will have to wait a week longer to find out whether he'll get out on bail, the Jamaica Observer reports.

The judge in the federal case, Anthony Porcelli, reserved judgment for a week in a hearing Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., saying he wanted to thoroughly review the arguments for and against bail. The prosecution maintains that the Jamaican citizen is a flight risk; the defense counters that his fame means he couldn't flee. (Roman Polanski might have some advice?)

A mistrial was declared Sept. 27 after jurors in Banton's case could not come to an agreement after a four-day trial and three days of deliberations. A retrial is expected to begin in December.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, faces up to life in prison if convicted.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Buju Banton in October 2003 at the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards in Miami. Credit: Yesikka Vivancos / Associated Press

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:

More details emerge in the Buju Banton drug case

Buju Banton arrested on a federal drug charge


Mistrial declared in reggae singer Buju Banton's drug case

Buju Banton mistrial Perhaps the drums beaten on Buju Banton's behalf this weekend by Rastafarian elders at a two-night vigil in Jamaica had an effect: A mistrial was declared Monday for the reggae singer, who was arrested in December on suspicion of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.

Jurors, who began deliberations Thursday in Tampa, Fla., told the judge twice Monday that they could not come to a decision after the four-day trial. Banton is also charged with aiding two others in possessing a firearm during the course of cocaine distribution.

Though Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was returned to lockup, his attorney has requested he be released on bail. The singer, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, testified that taped conversations in which he discussed cocaine with a government informant were meant only to impress the man, not to set up an actual drug deal. Bob Marley's son Stephen Marley testified as a character witness on Banton's behalf.

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Comments of the week: International conspiracy theory and Twitter quitter edition

Buju3Where was the action this week at the Ministry of Gossip? The winner when it comes to sheer volume of comments has to be Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton, whose arrest on a cocaine-related charge elicited lots of outrage and opinions that the sting -- which the DEA says is backed by video and audio tapes -- is part of a gay conspiracy. 

The content of the comments is pretty voluminous too.

Back in Jamaica, fans maintained the Grammy nominee's innocence, even after hearing about video and audio tapes the DEA says it has. Comments have flooded in -- and keep coming -- on last Sunday's original Ministry post, but a follow-up post Monday with more details on the case has gone pretty much untouched.

(The Ministry has learned a lot of Jamaican patois this week, let me tell you. Buju's story also wins the MOST COMMENTS IN ALL CAPS prize. That one's not so coveted, by the way. WE CAN HEAR YOU in little letters too.)

And here's a question on many readers' minds this week: Why is the Ministry hating on Chris Brown? The answer is, we are not hating on Chris Brown...

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More details emerge in the Buju Banton drug case [Updated]

Buju2 On Sunday night and early Monday, little was known about Buju Banton's arrest on a federal drug charge other than the fact that the reggae singer was in custody in Miami and faced a charge of conspiracy to possess more than 5 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute -- which carries a sentence of up to 20 years.

However, with the release of a Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit, more details have emerged about the undercover operation that led to the arrest of the singer and two associates, the Tampa Tribune reports.

[Update: 9:29 a.m., Dec. 15, 2009: Banton's attorney, Herbert E. Walker III, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press today that his client "vigorously denies" allegations that he tried to buy a large amount of cocaine from an undercover police officer. Walker said he looked forward to representing Banton in court but would not say more about the case.]

The additional information came as waves of shock and surprise -- and unsupported claims of a setup or conspiracy -- rippled through the reggae community and among Banton's fans, according to the Miami Herald.

The DEA affidavit said that the Jamaican dance-hall singer, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, traveled to Sarasota, Fla., last week with two other men to negotiate a drug purchase. A confidential informant -- who agreed to wear a wire during the negotiations -- had tipped off the DEA to the situation. Banton arrived at the meeting in his silver Land Rover with the license plate "Jah One," the affidavit said.

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Buju Banton arrested on a federal drug charge [Updated]

Buju BantonFirst, reggae singer Buju Banton was in the news this month because of his best reggae album Grammy nomination. More on that later.

Now Banton, a Jamaican performer whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, is in federal prison in Miami, the Miami Herald reports.

He's been in custody since Thursday, arrested on a charge of conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, a DEA spokesman said.

[Update, 10:27 a.m., Dec. 14, 2009: Banton allegedly attempted to buy cocaine from an undercover officer in Miami, the Associated Press reports.

According to court documents, Banton and two others contacted a police informant last week about buying cocaine in Sarasota. Drug Enforcement Administration agents say Banton negotiated the purchase and was observed inspecting cocaine offered by the undercover officer. The other men were also arrested Thursday when they allegedly attempted to buy the drugs.

Banton's record label has not commented on his arrest.]

[Read the Ministry's Dec. 15 follow-up post: "More details emerge in the Buju Banton drug case"]

Why the controversy -- one of many for the singer -- over the Grammy nod for his ninth album, "Rasta Got Soul"? Because of lyrics from the early part of his repertoire that advocated violence against gays -- an idea that's not anywhere close to new in Jamaica.

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