For years, musicians have not only glorified cocaine in their songs but also abused it in their real lives. From Rolling Stones famed guitarist Keith Richards to much loved lead singer Kurt Cobain of the famous rock band Nirvana, the infamous association of these artists with illicit substances has never been under the wraps. The latest to join the list is Grammy-award winning singer Buju Banton. His recent new undercover video showing the musician tasting cocaine has not gone down well with his fans. The video that lasts less than a minute was taken from Banton’s last meeting with the informant and shows the music legend tasting the illicit substance, then saying ‘I like it.’ For years, the video was kept under the seal and hidden from public view as it contained details about an undercover detective; however, the ABC News team ended up persuading a judge to unseal the video.
In 2011, the Jamaican musician was convicted of being part of a cocaine-selling conspiracy that led to his incarceration for almost a decade. Prosecutors maintained that Banton was charged as he had “demonstrated familiarity with the drug trade.” Despite the charges, the 44-year-old has maintained his innocence, stating it was just a chance encounter, a fact that was acknowledged by both the parties.
‘Video aims to damage his reputation’
The singer was allegedly entrapped in the case after a chance meeting on a U.S. bound flight with a passenger named Alex Johnson, who seemed funny and engaging. In reality, Johnson was an ex-convict who worked for various law enforcement agencies. The conversation soon shifted to cocaine and in an attempt to impress one another, both of them boasted of the various ties they enjoyed with drug traffickers.
After several months of their first meeting, Johnson managed to convince the singer to drive to Sarasota and meet him at his sailboat. The singer agreed and brought along with him a longtime friend Ian Thomas. Instead of taking them to his sailboat, Johnson took them to a warehouse owned by the Sarasota Police Department equipped with hidden cameras. While Thomas inspected the cocaine package handed to him by Johnson, Banton somehow managed to taste a small amount of the substance. Soon, Thomas and Johnson got busy in making the deal with someone in Georgia over the phone. Soon after, Banton left Sarasota for his home outside Miami. After the warehouse meeting, the deal was finalized between Thomas, Johnson, the man from Georgia and a crony named James Mack. On Dec. 10, 2009, during the final meeting at the Sarasota warehouse, the deal was busted by the Sarasota Police Department that led to the arrest of Thomas, Mack and the Georgia guy. In 2011, Banton was convicted for being involved in drug trafficking.
Entrapped and famed
According to his supporters, the Jamaican singer was entrapped and his arrest was nothing but part of a set up connived by the informant with the U.S. authorities. Calling the entire case as a “true miscarriage of justice,” the musician’s trial attorney, David Oscar Markus, had said via e-mail that, “there was NO evidence to support the jury’s verdict.”
As per the musician’s former manager, Donovan Germain, the timing of the release of the video raises many questions and seems to have been circulated so as to damage the singer’s reputation. When asked if the video will have an impact on the singer’s image, Germain said that it will all depend on how the singer reacts and handles the questions when he is released. Banton is expected to be released from a U.S. jail by the end of 2018.
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