Buju Banton, a reggae star who recently won the 2010 Grammy for Best Reggae Album, is about to undergo a second trial on charges of alleged drug trafficking. The first trial, conducted five months ago, ended when a hung jury refused to convict.
Banton is currently facing federal drug charges stemming from a videotaped incident in which he allegedly sampled cocaine by tasting it. If convicted, Banton could face a sentence of life in prison.
The reggae singer has argued that he was entrapped by an informant when he was lured into impressing the man, who said that he could improve Banton’s music career. The U.S. government, however, accuses Banton of conspiring to purchase a cocaine shipment from an undercover police officer. Two other men have pleaded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Banton was arrested in late 2009 and was kept in custody until November of 2010, when Stephen Marley, the son of reggae legend Bob Marley, posted his bail. Banton has been under house arrest since then, except during a fund raising concert that he performed to cover legal expenses.
Banton’s attorney says that prosecutors filed additional charges as a result of their dissatisfaction with the first trial. His attorney also notes that Banton was indeed entrapped by an informant who has earned over $3.3 million by working with law enforcement agents. Banton echoed this sentiment, saying that he never intended to purchase cocaine from the informant or engage in drug trafficking of any kind.
Source: The Washington Times, “Reggae star Buju Banton faces life in US prison,” Jennifer Kay, 2/14/2011