By Ryan Yousefi
By Chuck Strouse
By Terrence McCoy
By Terrence McCoy
By Terrence McCoy
By Michael E. Miller
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Michael E. Miller
For more than two hours, the men drank while talking about family, women, cars, home buying — the beginning of a blooming bromance. Then Buju's low tolerance hit him.
"Too much red wine," he slurred. "I need water."
Realizing he was bombed, Buju cut himself off. He went outside to smoke a spliff and catch a ride with his friend. Johnson rushed over before they could leave.
"Excuse me, excuse me. I hate to, I hate to bring up the cocaine," Johnson said. It was the first mention of drugs all day.
Just as he had done on the flight, Buju began rambling about his supposed drug-dealing ventures. He portrayed himself as a Bond-like villain, leading Johnson to believe he toured the world with his band by day and moved thousands upon thousands of kilos throughout the world by night. The drug talk quickly fizzled, though, and Johnson started chatting about his boat and how much fun they would have on it one day.
After that night, the calls kept coming. Johnson said he had told his wife all about Buju and asked how he could get backstage passes. Though at times Johnson sounded like a desperate hanger-on from summer camp, Buju didn't totally write him off. Hanging out with him was fun, and perhaps his music-industry contacts could put the "Boom Bye Bye" legacy to rest.
After a few days, Buju agreed to meet for some more drinks at a nearby Marriott. The day progressed as it had at Bova Prime and on the plane. Buju brought a friend, and the threesome started in on the booze. It wasn't until everyone was lubed up with liquor that Johnson steered the conversation toward the coke trade. Buju, again, bragged. Again, the conversation was taped.
Johnson said he did $30 million deals, and Buju countered he did $50 million deals. Buju claimed he would never get caught because he was only an investor. He threw out figures on the price of kilos in Panama and Suriname. Looking to really outdo everyone, Buju expressed interest in the African diamond trade because, well, "diamonds are king."
Yet at these meetings, Buju stumbled on details that might be common knowledge to an international drug trafficker. He mixed up kilos with pounds and underestimated certain costs. Johnson corrected him on several points. After the Marriott, Buju's appreciation for Johnson came to an end.
"When I leave Mr. Johnson, I am going, like, 'Idiot!'" Buju would testify later, shaking his head and rolling his eyes.
Buju had enough of hanging out, getting drunk, and playing Scarface. Johnson called him throughout August, September, October, and November. Buju politely made himself unavailable until the fateful day when he accepted an invitation to Sarasota, talked more about coke over margaritas, and then got locked in a warehouse with 20 kilos and two men he presumed to be armed Colombian drug dealers.
On Valentine's Day 2011, hours after winning the Grammy for best reggae album, Buju stood up from a small wooden table in a Tampa federal courtroom and bumped fists with David Oscar Markus, his Harvard-trained, Miami-based attorney. To their right, at a separate table, sat their opponents: James Preston, an archetypal federal prosecutor with thick white hair; and Dan McCaffrey, a buzzed-cut, goateed special agent with the DEA.
This was the second time the lawyers would face off over the fate of Buju. In September 2010, the government's first attempt to prosecute him ended in a hung jury stalled at 7-5 in favor of not guilty. Buju faced only two charges that time. In between the first and second trials, prosecutors tacked on two more: attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense. The basis for the wires charge was that Buju had said one line — "Yo, find out how much he wants" — in the warehouse.
Over the weeklong retrial, Preston teased out details trying to prove Buju was a legitimate player in the international drug trade. He showed jurors the grainy, green-tinged surveillance video of Buju dabbing his tongue with government-issued cocaine at the Sarasota warehouse and played tape recordings of his slurred drug talk. He labeled Buju a broker who expected to get a cut of the money from whatever deal Ian Thomas and Alex Johnson reached.
But Buju and his defense attorney swore the singer was just a boaster who talked a good game. Markus set out to destroy the credibility of the government's star witness, Alex Johnson. For that, the attorney had plenty of ammunition.
Johnson was born in Colombia in October 1949. "This con artist, Alexander Johnson, imported thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana into this country in the '80s and '90s. Not a little here, a little there. Thousands," Markus explained to the jury in his opening statement.
At the time, Johnson operated under the street name "El Gordo" and worked as a transporter for the Colombian cartels. Then, in 1993, U.S. authorities arrested him while he was trying to import 700 kilos. Facing life in prison and overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Johnson decided to cooperate. He was able to get the sentence reduced to 20 years, but that was still too long for his liking. So he pointed a finger at others and got another ten years knocked off. Then, after serving fewer than three years, Johnson convinced the feds that he would be of greater use on the outside. He walked from prison in 1996, getting his probation waived in the process. Johnson was a free man with a new job title: confidential informant.
Fucking yanks stupid fat bastards with no clue about the way the drug game works do you think an awardwinning artist needs to be involved In drugs nope enough money to retire off music
wow. once you have a voice that the masses listen to they set out to shut you up, that's the way of the world. so sad.
To charge Buju with these ridiculous charges is the most disgusting thing and the U.S. Government should be ashamed! Yes Buju did a song over 20 years ago and he is still being bashed for it. Ain’t no karma in letting a man do time for something he did not do. So this only makes us love Buju even more and despise the corrupt government even more. Yes, the LORD is the ONE and only true JUDGE and HE shall take vengeance on those messing with HIS anointed. Buju’s message will live long after we are gone…for generations they will hear of his praise to the LORD and that is a Blessing. Buju will always be a Blessing to the masses! No one can take that from him! Not even some crooked government. HE who sits in the heavens shall have the last laugh! Yes! May the MOST HIGH have mercy on their soul.
God is your only judge and jury. We will continue to support you on this fight for freedom. Never bow.
free buju. keep your joy!
Go tell clerk a court, go a court fi demselfWho gwan judge di judge, him ah sentence himselfSo tell di lawyer, seh fi lawyer himselfBarrister, dem ah run risk wid demselfPolice man, tell dem go arrest demselfYow, cah mi si seh dem possess demselfSeh dem ah stop crime, but stop demself"
Buju did this to himself. I love Buju but he wanted to be a gangster and this is what happens to gangsters. Why go around tastin coke? Hangin in the dope house sippin margaritas? I thought Buju Rasta? Rasta do Jah Work period. This is the road for Buju his enlightenment goes through the pennitentry just like Malcolm. Buju will survive and come back stronger Jah will not give him nothin he can't handle.
The DEA or Despicable Entrapment Agency has its head so far up its ass they couldn't catch a crack dealer selling nickel bags on the street corner without using some piece of shit snitch with a three-mile rap sheet who plays them like the clueless asshole violas they are. Let the guy go - it is obvious he wanted NO part of this undertaking. Maybe the DEA should do some real drug work and start assassinating Mexican and Colombian drug lords and their gangs. Then there wouldn't be such a problem here.
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i see a clear entrapment defense!just the fact that he did not answer his phone on the following day,says to me that he had no intrest in this deal that was set UP by a snitch!
Time to repeal these fascist drug laws and allow our police to concentrate on the dangerous criminals
Because if I had 13 kids I would be recorded bragging about moving kilos and then just happen to go visit a guy that prides himself on a being a drug dealer and then I just happen to travel and visit this drug dealer several times and end up in a warehouse with several kilos.....wow
Come on people!!! I like his music too he is talented but the idiot put himself in that situation. Bob Marley spoke about the times, real struggle, love and family. The idiots now and days want to be tony montana. If Buju were to get out of jail would he become the next Bob Marley??? no he would go back to playing a victim and wanting to have Tony Montanta swag.................
See the government are a bunch of drugs trafficker themselves where did they get 20 kilos from. And went after this man so hard to convict him because he would not apologies for the song boom bye bye. The two who set up the deal on the phone didn't get charged with the using the phone to set up the deal but Buju did. he also got charged with a gun that was taken off someone else and the jury didn't see thought this sad.
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Lucky Buju is not a Muslin...the setup would be much worse and no civilian courts either. God bless America...yes sometimes I wish there was a God and a heaven and a hell for those who go out of their way to make life hell for those they do not understand.
". . . we are talking about one song, recorded at age 15 . . ."
On "The Word" television show on U.K. Channel 4, in December 1992, Buju Banton said "if it ['Boom Bye Bye'] cause any controversy I apologize . . ." In other words, he apologized for the controversy the song created and not for the "kill LGBT" message of the song. He also said "I don't condone violence." You can see this on YouTube at http://bit.ly/bzVPKJ
Although Buju said on "The Word" TV show in 1992 and in other statements that he "does not condone violence," he continued to perform "Boom Bye Bye" until 2004. "Boom Bye Bye" clearly calls for gay men to be shot in the head, shot with an Uzi, have acid splashed on them and then to be burned like an old tire or necklaced.
Buju only stopped performing "Boom Bye Bye" in 2004 under pressure from Amnesty International. You can read their letter to Buju and his manager, Donovan Germain here http://bit.ly/bnLWFQ
It has never been just about "Boom Bye Bye." Buju Banton preaches and rants and raves about LGBT people from the stage. After he stopped performing "Boom Bye Bye," he would remind audiences of the song by humming parts of it or having them sing it. This way he could claim that he had stopped singing it.
Buju has several other anti LGBT songs including "How It Ago Go" and "Gay Waan Rights." These songs are on YouTube and were not big hits. Buju also performed an anti LGBT routine, which was a modified version of his song "How Massa God World A Run." This routine was once on YouTube as "Fire Burn Batty." That version was removed, but you can see another version here http://bit.ly/infCRs This routine has Buju's famous line "there is no end to the war between me and fa**ots."
Over the years, Buju has had numerous opportunities to "move on." He has not done so.
Buju has never distanced himself from the "kill gays" message of "Boom Bye Bye."
send the monkey back to where he came from....the scum isnt welcome here...and take all the other island people with you !!!
It may be true that he's innocent of drugs charges in this case, but this could be viewed as karma for all the gay bashing he's done over the years. As someone who claims to understand and revere the Lord, who is he to sit in judgement of other's lifestyles? Only the Lord has the authority and the Lord will do with it as he sees fit. As someone who sings about "One Love", I find him to be little more than a hypocrite. I hope that Buju spends the next ten years making real peace with the Lord by repenting for the error of his ways. That's when we'll hear the real spiritual music, when his soul has been cleansed. In this case, it seems to me that the Lord has spoken in volumes.
"all the gay-bashing"? smh. we are talking about one song, recorded at age 15, which has been used by LGBT activists for 20 years as a rallying cry and a sure-fire hot button for fund-raising appeals for LGBT organizations -- the same ones who sold out their constituents to the telecoms on the failed AT&T/Comcast merger in the US and advocated for gay rights as seperate from human or civil rights in the UK. one could ask, how much money has the gay activist community has made off claiming to be victims of boom bye bye and buju banton -- then compare that to the nonexistent royalties made of a song whose copyright banton doesnt even own. or we could mention that there are numerous jamaican artists who have recorded anti-gay tunes at the behest of the government, but banton is not one of them.
it is interesting, "Ipinion" that you not only claim the name of "rastafari"--an orthodox christian sect which doesnt believe in homosexuality from a moral standpoint--in vain, but you seem to think that a corrupt government agency --which also launders Mexican drug cartel cash and okays murders and drug dealing by MS-13 members--working with a professional snitch and a prosecutor who have been pulling the same set-up scam for ten years -- is "karma." would this be karma if it werent a celebrity arrest?
You obviously know as little about Rastafarianism as you do about banton's music. And while Buju obviously made mistakes, you seem to think that an injust justice system which routinely imprisons innocent people to fuel the lavish lifestyles of criminals and professional liars and bolster the careers of prosecutors, is ok. in my book, that makes you a bigger hypocrite than buju could ever be.
BTW, "One Love" is a bob Marley song used by the Jamaican tourist board to promote cruises and resorts which dont benefit poor jamaicans. Voice of Jamaica is a Buju album.
Excellent take on the subject. I appreciate being supplied both sides of the story. Interesting, informative, well documented piece.
The whole nation of America is watching this debacle of justice. You will be out soon. Obvious entrapment, that's how Florida rolls it seems.
I'm sorry that you had to spend this time, showing the rest of us how flawed our justice system is, once again. I know your mind and songs can shatter all confinement in a hearbeat or two. You will be out soon.
Florida, the whole country is watching, and palm slapping their faces in disgust...
Looking forward to babylon understanding the meaning of "entrapment" and that it's now big business for our prison-industrialized nation. We demand Mark Myrie released from this unconstitutional detainment in our flawed country. Now is not too soon.
Much Love and Full Support. Peter I & I & I Shall NOT BE REMOVED.
Good over evil. . . . when judgement day comes I wouldn't wanna be Alex Johnson. Regardless of Buju's involvement he has a higher purpose and does so much for his community, he needs to be spreading positive messages through music and blessing those in his community not sittin in jail. His heart is pure, we all make mistakes and his only mistake was befriending some pussy hole!
Sea View mi seh!
Buju is a reggae GOD & should be released immediately! Buju pays the IRS more money in a year from the milllions he earns as a reggae artist than Johnson (the snitch) wll ever pay in his whole lifetime!!!
I was not there and I don't know if he is guilty or not,
But I still have my suspicions, even though he might not be guilty in all that was said, I still think he needs to learn a lesson as these celebrities need to know that our young people are watching them. thus using drugs, Ganja, Cocaine or even alcohol can set a bad example for them.
What I can say for sure is that the justice system in this great, God blessed country, is one of the wickedest in the world, I sometimes I wonder how these prosecutors and even some judges sleep at nights? do they really have a conscience?
Listen to my story.
After getting married in 1991, the union lasted little over a year, the mistake I made was to marry a woman with a temper as hot as Cayenne Pepper, due to that we separated, we lived apart for over 10 years before this incident I am about to tell you about.
During those years she kept turning up at my job, my home even at church verbally abusing and harassing me. I petitioned the courts three times for a restraining order so she could stop coming to my place, each time it was denied, the judge or judges claim she is no threat to me.
In the year 2002 or some where about she came to my place of business hurling profanities with verbal threats, all because I took $20.00 from my son towards his own book bag.
The day in question she turned up at my place of business knocking violently at the door, I refused to open it, so she got even more upset by this time our then 10 year old son was in the car, realizing that I wasn’t going to open the door, she went back to her vehicle, then sent the child to knock the door, I still refused to open it, as I knew that she would seize the opportunity and come at me.
The child began to cry and yelling daddy open the door, so I opened the door, in the process of handing him back the $20.00, while I was doing so she came rushing towards the door cursing and swearing, there and then we both got into an argument, she then rushed to back to her vehicle, seeing that, I bent over fill my hand with some gravel, I mean broken stones, small ones that was used in the back section of the building. Filled my hand so as to defend or ward her off in case she turns up with a weapon, this was just a split second decision. Those gravel could not stop her if she had returned with a gun or a knife.
Unfortunately our child say the whole thing and ran, that’s a very unfortunate thing for any child to witness, something I live to regret today, that ended the whole fussing as we both went to get him.
After that I went inside with tears in my eyes I called the police, the officer asked twice is this a man or a woman reporting this incident, I said I am a man, I waited over two hours no police came, I called again and in about a another hour one officer came, he took the report and said I should go to the State Attorney’s office and file harassment charge against her.
I said no! she is my child’s mother I’ll just let it go. That was the worst mistake I have ever made, after the incident she left, then went to the police station, made a false report, on the report the officer put aggravated assault base on what she said but no arrest was made.
8 months later she placed my our son in a so called religious military school, one day the child showed me a scar in his face and told me a man at the school hit him in the face and after he told his mother that he is going to tell his dad, she throw something and hit him.
I then seek the assistance of the court in taking the child out of the school, the judge did not believe me as Child welfare took sides and told the court that I just want to take the child away from the mother. So the judge ruled that the child should appear in court so she could question him.. The child went to court the judge asked him and he said it just like he told me.The judge instantly gave me temporary custody and ordered that the child be taken out of that so called Christian military school. The judge even said, that some of these religious institutions are nothing but cults.
People this was just a victory short lived. I did not know that the man my son pointed out as the one hitting him in the face was a police officer who was also an instructor at the school.
To cut along story short, that police officer along with one detective Shannon Walton of the Miami Dade police department found the report my wife made 8 months prior.
Called me to her office then charged me with
Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon, Burglary and Battery
The Burglary charge and the Aggravated Assault are felonies that can carry 30 years in jail or more. See how wicked the justice system is, she claim that I put my hands inside the vehicle in an attempt to hit her, and that amounts to burglary.
Listen people this woman came to my place of business threatened me and in trying to defend myself from a woman with a hog’s temper I almost got sent to prison for years. RIGHT HERE IN THIS GREAT AMERICA.
This is just a part of what really took place, but time will not allow me to go into further detail.
Today because of that incident and the lies that were told so as to get a conviction, my Green Card is about to be taken away.
I love this country but the judicial system is totally against men. It encourages women to abuse men and get away with it and even if the State and the prosecutors have to lie they don’t care, as long as they get a conviction.
What a wicked world!
@ Sellous, we were not there, we don't know if you are innocent or not. You have to remember you have a child that watch your every move. SMDH! you are right, the juvtice system in this country is one of the wickedest.
Sallous, what the hell does your bad decisions and junk relationships have to do wiht a man that has been wrongfully imprisoned? So..because you had a bad relationship and don't know how to raise you kids, you think this has something to do with the voice of a movement being silenced. Please just pay attention to your own sad shortcomings and leave other, more innocent men at peace.
Buju would say something comforting to you right now if he could, I just want to slap you for trying to compare your inability to live your own life even semi-correclty to his ability to help others live it better every day.
I hope I can grow and have more compassion to completely useless people like yourself.
Grow a dick and take responsibility for your own crappy decisions and if you need a voice of never-ending support, LISTEN TO BUJU BANTON.
Excellent article! I learnt much more about the whole incident than before, and am no longer convinced of his guilt. Thanks.