Grammy Award winning dancehall reggae sensation Buju Banton has been found guilty on drug charges after many thought the artist would beat the odds after an earlier mistrial in the fall of 2010.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday evening that it took Tampa, Florida jurors 11 hours to convict Banton, born Mark Myrie, on three counts. The charges read that the singer was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. One charge of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine was dropped.
The 37-year old Jamaican artist had a host of fans and fellow artists in court showing support for Buju during his trial. Affectionately known as “Gargamel,” Buju was arrested in December 2009 on charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine along with two others. The deejay was heard in taped conversations discussing the deal with undercover agents who then set up a sting to nab the entertainer.
Damaging video shown during the trial saw Banton allegedly tasting the cocaine for potency. In court, it was learned that an informant was given $135,000 dollars by one of Banton’s co-defendants in the case.
Buju has maintained innocence from the onset and reports say that the striking superstar exhibited no signs of sadness or despair. After the verdict was read, Buju hugged his attorneys and turned to the spectators to blow them kisses and acknowledge their support. Buju’s bail was revoked and he was led away by U.S. Marshals to await sentencing. Banton’s attorney David Markus plans to appeal the conviction and attempt to have his client free on bond as he waits to know his fate.
Buju Banton’s tenth studio album Before The Dawn received a Grammy Award for best reggae album on February 13.