Trapping Buju Banton

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I couldn’t believe this when I read it.

Source: Sun Herald JA
International reggae artiste Mark Myrie better known as Buju Banton’s bitter experience with US law enforcement started on July 26, 2009, when the singer came in contact with man who turned out to be a paid government informant during a flight from Madrid, Spain to Miami, Florida.

Last week, Myrie’s lawyers David Oscar Markus and Marc David Seitles filed a motion in court demanding disclosure of the informant described as a “confidential source” (CS) in court documents as part of their client’s defence.

The defence is insisting that every aspect of this case was controlled by the government, from the CS’s attempts to generate the crime to the agents supplying the means for it to occur.

The defence submitted that by sheer chance, bad luck, or other reason to which the defendant was unaware, the passenger occupying the seat next to him was a confidential source.

Prior to meeting the CS on the flight, Buju Banton, the lawyers contend, had never spoken to, met with or even heard of him.

In addition to refusing to disclose the CS’s identity, the government has refused to identify the prior cases in which he has been involved, the outcomes of those cases, the amount of money he has earned making cases for the government, or even the amount he has been paid (or expects to be paid) in this case.

During the long international flight to Miami, the CS, after softening up Myrie with small talk, began discussing cocaine. Throughout the flight, the CS tried to interest Myrie in buying cocaine. Based on the motion, Myrie, however, was not interested, and to the best of his knowledge the CS did not record this long encounter with Myrie.

According to the motion, the CS did not give up, and the lawyers argued that he did not because his livelihood depended on it.

Accordingly, over the course of the next five months, the CS repeatedly called Myrie in repeated attempts to convince him to participate in a cocaine conspiracy with him. Some but not all of the CS’s attempts to ensnare Myrie were tape-recorded. The calls that were recorded have been disclosed but have not been transcribed. However, the counsel contends that he has listened to them, and the tapes repeatedly show his client’s attempts to put off the CS.

Relentless attempts

During the trip to Miami, the CS managed to convince Myrie to meet him at a restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale the following day, July 27, 2009.

According to the lawyer it was the CS who brought up the subject of cocaine.

Two days later, on July 30, 2009, the CS called Myrie at 1:21 p.m. in an attempt to confirm another lunch meeting but Myrie told the CS that he could not make it. The CS tried again on August 4, 2009, but Myrie’s lawyer said his client dodged him by telling the CS to call back later.

The CS, however, was persistent and called Myrie the next day, August 5, 2009. However, Myrie told the CS that he could not make it, that he was meeting his band for a rehearsal in New York and was catching a flight after that.

Based on the information submitted, the CS tried yet again on September 3, last year, but Myrie told him that he was leaving for London on September 12. He called again and was told that Myrie was in Philadelphia on tour  and was not coming back to Florida for a while. On October 14, 2009, the CS called asking for two tickets to a concert on October 31, 2009, and to see him backstage. Myrie reportedly told the CS he was in California and would call him.

The lawyers revealed that the CS and DEA tried to finalize the sting in December. Last year however, Myrie told the CS that he could not make the meeting, as he was waiting for a car and would not drive two hours to a meeting. The CS then told Myrie that he had to go to Houston and needed to talk to him, “So if you come it will be different, that will change a lot of things and start things.”

According to Myrie’s lawyers, the CS was relentless and pleaded for Myrie to come, telling him that the “key is for us to meet him, to make an effort, it will be it worth it for you to come.”

But Myrie told the CS that he could not make it until the following morning and he would call him but Myrie did not attend the meeting.

Arrested

Finally, on December 8, 2009, the CS was successful in convincing Myrie to meet with him. Just to make sure Myrie attended, at 12:50 p.m. the CS called Myrie. However, the tape of the call reflects Myrie’s reluctance to meet. Nonetheless, according to the complaint, Myrie attended the meeting at 2:29 p.m. at an “undercover warehouse.”

According to the DEA agent who attended that meeting Myrie and his codefendant were shown a brick of cocaine. Myrie then went back to Miami. But over the next two days, December 9 and 10, 2009, co-defendants Thomas and Mack continued to meet and talk to the CS.

The discussions and meetings culminated in Thomas and Mack returning to the undercover warehouse, at which time they were arrested.