The drug conspiracy trial of four-time Grammy nominated reggae artist Buju Banton got underway with shocking tape recordings. The recordings were made between July and December 2009. The recordings played by the prosecution were of conversations between Buju and government informant Alexander Johnson discussing drug deals and even diamond smuggling from Africa to Europe. Johnson is a convicted drug trafficker who has been working with the US Government since 1996.
According to the Jamaica Observer,, many of Buju’s supporters in attendance appeared shocked by the damaging recordings. Buju himself shook his head repeatedly during the playback. The prosecution gave another blow to Buju’s defense when the video was played.
The video recorded on December 8, 2009 depicts Buju seemingly tasting cocaine. The knife was provided by former co-defendant turned government witness Ian Thomas. Thomas had used the knife to cut open a package containing five kilos of cocaine during an undercover operation by the Sarasota Police Department.
Upon cross-examination by David Oscar Markus, Buju Banton’s attorney, the government informant Alexander Johnson testified that Buju had not financed the drug deal that landed Ian Thomas and James Mack in jail.
In my opinion, the tape recordings were extremely damaging to Buju. On the tapes, Buju is heard saying “I am about making money, straight up”. That being said, when Buju’s attorney asked if Mr. Myrie (aka Buju Banton) “Mr Myrie did not invest any money in any drug deal?” The answer from the convicted Colombian drug dealer was “no”. In fact, all he could testify to is that Buju talked about the deal and that Buju had never wired any monies, bought or sold drugs or in any way financed this drug deal.