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Reggae star Buju Banton gets 10 years in drug case
Question of the Day
Much of the case hinged on meetings and phone calls that were video- and audiotaped by the informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration _ and who made $50,000 in commission after the bust.
In one video, Banton could be seen tasting cocaine in a Sarasota warehouse on Dec. 8, 2009. But he was not present during the actual drug deal on Dec. 10 that led two others to be arrested. Those two men later pleaded guilty.
Banton testified that the informant badgered him after they met on a trans-Atlantic flight in July 2009 and insisted they meet to set up a cocaine purchase. He said he was so uninterested in the informant’s proposals that after they met twice, Banton didn’t return the man’s phone calls for months.
Markus said he plans to appeal.
“This fight is not over,” Markus said. “We will keep fighting for him. Mark Myrie is my brother, and I’m going to keep fighting until they tell me to stop.”
Among the dozens of letters of support in the court file were those from several of Banton’s 15 children wrote, a Jamaican government official, an NBA player, other reggae artists and actor Danny Glover, who called Banton a “role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community.”
“Your honor, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer,” Glover wrote. “Society would not benefit from his incarceration.”
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….The situation is just an example of our mere imperfections as people, being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Banton remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and his trial _ his second over the drug accusations _ was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked.
Shortly before his conviction in February, he won a Grammy for best reggae album for his work entitled “Before the Dawn.”
Associated Press writer David McFadden contributed from Kingston, Jamaica.
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