Reggae star Buju Banton trial kicked off yesterday, a day after the artiste won his first Grammy awards.
On the first day DEA agent Dan McCaffrey took the stand to testify against Banton. McCaffrey told the court that Banton was instrumental in setting up the drug deal, however, none of the $135,000 seized belonged to Banton. Two buyers from Georgia name Tyke and Ike was also named in the case.
In his testimony, McCaffrey said that the DEA’s policy is that the agent wouldn’t tell a prospective drug dealer that they were going to show drugs because it could put the undercover agent at risk.
In his opening statement, Prosecutor James Preston, Buju Banton (real name Mark Myrie) willfully entered the plan to expand his existing drug trafficking network.
Buju Banton lead attorney, David Markus, in his opening statement listed 10 reasons why Banton was not guilty. Markus stressed that Buju did not get a dollar or any reward from the deal; never spoke with James Mack nor heard of him before; that he never spoke with Ike and Tyke and never went to the warehouse on December 8, 2009 to see drugs.
David Markus also painted the government informant as a con artist, who did everything to set his client up.
Buju Banton first trial ended in September 2010 in a mistrial, as jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. His second trial, which began yesterday is even tougher with twi additional charges being added.
Banton is being tried for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine; attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offence; and using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offence.
If convicted, Banton faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and fined up to US$4 million.