As Iman wrote about it, Buju Banton was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Thursday.
The Reggae star was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it, along with a drug trafficking offense and a gun charge.
But the sentence could have been even longer (15 years) if the Judge James Moody had not dismissed a firearm charge because the singer did not have a gun during the crime.
The whole case depends on video and audio recordings taken by an informant and by Drug Enforcement Administration personnel, and in particular one video shown to the jury showing Banton tasting cocaine in a Florida warehouse.
What is very worrisome is the fact that the informant was paid $50,000 by a co-defendant, after Banton's arrest in December 2009.
Banton’s defense was that he was set up by this government informant, something which was countered by the prosecution showing that Banton was already involved in drug trafficking.
According to the Jamaica Observer, defense attorney Markus declared:
‘We are hopeful, we are still optimistic, we are very thankful that the judge did that today and now we will appeal to an appellate court in Atlanta, Georgia. Three judges will hear our case on the 10-year drug count that is left and we will be arguing that the evidence was insufficient on the drug count and that there was entrapment as a matter of law because of that scoundrel Alex Johnson. Mark Myrie [Buju's real name] is my brother, and I am going to keep fighting until they tell me to stop fighting.’
Alex Johnson is the government informant in question, and he approached Myrie with arguments about drug dealing during a flight from Madrid to the US in 2008.
And the Jamaica Observer noted that ‘Myrie was arrested at his home in Tamarac, South Florida after almost a year of surveillance of telephone and live conversations and video recordings that included him tasting cocaine in a Saratoga warehouse’.
So, yeah, Myrie used and possessed cocaine, but this highly paid informant seems to be an entrapment as a matter of law.
And how many artists are cocaine users and never get arrested? Didn’t Lady Gaga say she was still using cocaine when she was on the cover of Vanity Fair last year? Paris Hilton was arrested and released for cocaine possession several times.
I understand there is a penalty which is proportional to the amount of drug possessed, but a society which glamorizes cocaine use by rich white girls while black men gets 10 years is beyond ridiculous!
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