Buju on tape – DEA claims to have recordings of reggae star participating in cocaine deal

todayDecember 15, 2009 2

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International reggae superstar Buju Banton is facing the fight of his life with the revelation that United States drug enforcement agents have recordings of his participation in a cocaine deal.

Buju has been arrested on charges of dealing in illegal drugs and could spend more than 20 years in a federal prison in the US if he is found guilty.


The reggae star is scheduled to appear in court in Tampa, Florida, tomorrow for the first round of what attorney-at-law and University of Miami Professor David Rowe says could be a lengthy trial.

“I think that if he is intelligent and he approaches the case properly, he could get a result that would not end his career, and that would put him in a position where he might be able, in a relatively short period of time, to come out,” Rowe told The Gleaner yesterday.

The veteran attorney was responding to the affidavit made public yesterday by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

In the affidavit, the DEA alleges that Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, and two others “knowingly and wilfully conspire and agree with each other and with others unknown to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine”.

Hard fight

Rowe, who was among the first persons to view the affidavit, argued that the allegations, which are reportedly supported by audio and video recordings, show that Buju and his co-accused will have a hard fight.

“This is a very tight affidavit. However, that does not mean that there may not be information that may arise at a later stage which might factually challenge some of the claims that have been made,” Rowe said.

“I expect them to tender the affidavit before a federal grand jury and obtain a grand jury indictment eventually, but this is not good news for Buju Banton and his fans, because it appears he will have to explain a number of factual issues.”

According to DEA Special Agent Daniel McCaffery, on December 8, law-enforcement agents received information from a confidential source that Buju and his associates were in the Sarasota area of Tampa, Florida, and wanted to purchase several kilograms of cocaine.

It is further alleged that Buju agreed to meet with the unnamed confidential source who was outfitted with audio and video-recording equipment.

Tested cocaine

McCaffery said Buju and one of his co-defendants, Ian Thomas, met the source at a restaurant before travelling to a second restaurant where they were shown a quantity of cocaine.

“After viewing the cocaine, Myrie (who allegedly used his tongue to test the cocaine) and Thomas continued to negotiate with the confidential source for them to obtain multiple kilograms of cocaine,” McCaffery said in his affidavit.

According to the DEA agent, the next day, Thomas contacted the confidential source and continued negotiations to obtain 15 kilograms of cocaine.

On December 10, Thomas and another accused, James Mack, travelled to a facility where they allegedly presented a large quantity of money and were given a bag containing seven kilograms of cocaine.

At that time, they were arrested by law-enforcement agents and a handgun was reportedly found in a secret compartment of the vehicle they were driving.

DEA agents subsequently arrested Buju, who was not at the scene at the time the drug deal was being completed.

However, Rowe told The Gleaner that absence was not enough to save Buju.

“He could enter a plea and attempt to strike a deal while assuming that the DEA has the evidence that it says it has,” said Rowe.

Source: JamaicaGleaner

Written by: jahknoradio

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