“It’s not an easy road, Many see the glamour and the glitter, And think it’s a bed of rose,Who feels it knows” Not An Easy Road lyrics – M. Myrie
International reggae superstar Buju Banton, given name Mark Myrie, was found guilty of drug related charges on February 22, 2011, at the Sam M Gibbons Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence. He faces life in prison. He was also charged with attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, for which he was found not guilty.
This is the second trial for the reggae artist. In the first trial in September 2010 resulted in deadlocked jury. Closing arguments in the second trial ended Thursday, with predictions that the trial could go either way. Hopes of his acquittal were based on the facts that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal, nor did he ever profit from it. However, prosecutors emphasized to jurors that “this is not about Buju Banton, the reggae singer. This is about Mark Myrie, the drug defendant.” The prosecutor’s case hinged on audio and videotaped footage in which Banton could be seen tasting cocaine in a Sarasota warehouse on Dec. 8, 2009. However, he was not present at the actual drug deal that took place on December 10th, 2009.
When the verdict rendering him guilty was read, Banton hugged his lawyer David Markus, who later expressed “we are extremely disappointed and emotional.”
He also read a brief statement from Banton:
“Our life and our destiny are sometimes pre-destined and no matter where this journey takes me, remember I fought the good fight. It was a great man that said my head is bloody but still unbowed I love you all thank you for your support.”
Many of Banton’s supporters who were present at the hearing left the courtroom in tears. He was immediately detained and all of his previous bail conditions were revoked pending his sentencing hearing. His lawyer has also signaled his intention to appeal the verdict.
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