Attorneys for the U.S. government said Monday at the beginning of Banton’s drug trial, that reggae superstar Buju Banton was an established drug trafficker before he allegedly tried to buy cocaine from an undercover officer in Florida last year.
Banton, 37, whose real name is Mark Myrie, has been held without bail since his arrest in December on charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine and carrying a firearm during the course of a drug trafficking crime. The four-time Grammy nominee faces a possible life sentence if convicted. Banton’s attorney, David Markus, insisted his client did not participate in any conspiracy to sell cocaine, even if he did talk with the informant about drug deals.
“Do you have any contacts where I can get cocaine?” Banton asked a government informant named Alexander Johnson in a recorded conversation, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston told a jury in Tampa federal court.
“Yes, Buju talked a lot,” Markus said in opening statements. “Yes, he tasted that cocaine. No, he wasn’t a drug dealer. He wasn’t part of the deal.” Markus said Banton will testify in his trial. “He’s got nothing to hide,” Markus said. “The truth is on his side in this case because he didn’t do anything.”
Banton and an associate allegedly negotiated with a government informant to buy cocaine. Along with a third man, they allegedly met with an undercover officer in Sarasota in early December to buy the dope. The informant told DEA agents that he also witnessed Banton inspecting the cocaine, tasting it with his finger. The Dec. 8 meeting was captured on video.
The two co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have agreed to testify against Banton. (Of course they are gonna turn on the guy that the govt. wants for lighter sentences for themselves…isn’t that a conflict of interest?)Banton’s using his finger to taste the cocaine in the Sarasota warehouse in December was “the worst mistake of his life,” Markus told the jury. He will try to prove that Banton was a victim of entrapment.
Markus told the jury that Johnson had imported cocaine to the U.S. from Colombia until he was caught in 1994.
Johnson cooperated with authorities, served three years in prison and has earned $3.3 million by working for several U.S. law enforcement agencies, including more than $50,000 for the Banton case. (WTF?!?!)
“Alexander Johnson has never had a job,” Markus said. “Instead, he’s been setting people up.”
Preston said Banton was eager to work with Johnson, whom he met on a flight from Spain to Miami at the end of his European tour last summer.
“I give you money,” Banton said, according to Preston. “You buy, you sell, give me money.”
If you truly listen to reggae music than you obviously know the status and the music of Buju Banton. If you are not sure, he is best known for his tracks : Boom Bye Bye, Champion, and Paid not Played…