“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are convinced that Mark Anthony Myrie was unjustly targeted and convicted in the United States court in Florida,” explains Banton’s new attorney, Chokwe Lumumba “We request that the highest court of the land review this injustice and overturn it.” He adds, “We are determined to fight for Myrie’s freedom until he is vindicated.”
The talented Grammy Award winning reggae super star and philanthropist Mark Myrie, aka Buju Banton, currently languishes in Miami Correctional federal prison in Florida serving the second of a ten year sentence while awaiting ruling on his pending appeal for a re-trial--for allegedly conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. In June 2009 while on a trans-Atlantic flight returning from a European concert tour, Buju was befriended by a Colombian man seated next to him, “Alexander Johnson”--a career criminal turned paid US government informant-- who spent the next 6 months calling and trying to convince Buju to purchase cocaine. Johnson eventually wore him down and persuaded Buju to come see his boat in Sarasota, where, instead Buju and his driver, Ian Thomas were flashed cocaine in a DEA undercover warehouse. Two days later, Ian Thomas facilitated a drug deal with James Mack, a third party from Atlanta, with Alexander Johnson and on Dec. 10, 2009, Buju was arrested across the State at his home in Tamarac. He thought he was being arrested for “parking tickets” when police entered his home. Alexander Johnson received $50,000 cash payment for setting up this drug deal. Alexander Johnson was convicted in 1993 for bringing thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, Johnson was able to negotiate his life sentence down to 21 years in exchange for turning in his drug affiliates, then down to 10 years, and after only 2 years in jail, Johnson worked out a deal in which the Government asked a judge to further reduce his sentence and he was released with 5 years of probation. After two months, at the Governments request, Johnson’s probation was terminated. Despite being a convicted felon who was not a US citizen, Johnson was not deported to his native Colombia. Rather he successfully parlayed his life of crime into a lucrative 16 year career as a confidential informant for which he has been paid over $3.3 million by the US government. Mark Myrie is beloved to millions across the globe as the Grammy award winning reggae artist called “the voice of Jamaica.” He has no previous criminal record and neither uses nor distributes cocaine. Raised by a single mother of 15 children in substantial poverty, he worked diligently to achieve a successful music career and fulfill his role as the primary provider for a large family.
Mark Myrie was convicted last year for “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute” and “using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense,” federal offenses that together carry a 10-year penalty. A third conviction, “knowing and intentionally carrying a firearm to further a drug offense” (5 year minimum), was thrown out at his sentencing hearing, however upon appeal by the Prosecution, the charge was reinstated.
On October 30th, Banton was scheduled to face a re-sentencing hearing at the US Sam Gibbons Court in Tampa, Florida following an Atlanta-based Appeals Court ruling that he should be convicted for a gun possession offense. The ruling was made after the artiste lost an appeal bid against his 10-year conviction on a drug-smuggling charge.
He faced an additional five years on that conviction.
However, the re-sentencing was postponed after his attorney Chokwe Lumumba filed two motions before Judge Moody. "We filed two motions. The first motion was for the judge to reconsider his prior sentence and reduce it. The second motion was for a new trial based on jury misconduct. The judge decided that notice for the new trial took precedence over re-sentencing and decided to research whether he is allowed to grant a new trial under the law," stated Banton's co-counsel, Ihmotep Alkebu-lan.
"We are hoping that he is granted a new trial to hear from jurors and elicit testimony about their misconduct, and therefore he be granted a new trail," he said.
The juror, Terri Wright, revealed to a Florida media house that she had secretly researched the Pinkerton Law which was used by the prosecution to connect Banton to an illegal firearm that was found in the possession of a co-conspirator, James Mack, during a cocaine transaction in a police-controlled warehouse in Tampa.
Mack and another man, Ian Thomas, were both arrested during that sting operation and copped guilty pleas. They both received 51-month sentences.
Banton is likely to face stern opposition from the prosecutors to the motion for a new trial or a reduced sentence.
Buju has consistently maintained his innocence and claimed he was entrapped by Drug Enforcement Agent informant Alexander Johnson, who he said enticed him with promises of huge record deals.
We encourage you to sign this on line petition to the Supreme Court requesting the charges against Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton be overturned.
United States Supreme Court
C/O Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill St.
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
Hon. Supreme Court Justices:
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Anthony Myrie (Buju Banton).
Mr. Myrie has filed a petition in this court seeking review and reversal of drug, conspiracy, weapons possession and phone facilitation convictions occurring in the U.S.District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.
The convictions of Mr. Myrie are outrageous and unjust. Mr. Myrie was the victim of a concerted U.S. government effort to entrap, conducted by a corrupt informant who was paid 3.5 million dollars by the government for his services in various cases over the years.
Mark Myrie is a Grammy Award winning reggae artiste from Jamaica. He has never been convicted of a crime prior to the present case. He has helped feed numerous hungry children in his country and otherwise contributed to worthy causes in Jamaica and elsewhere. He is supported by hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions worldwide.
I ask this honorable court to review his case and grant Mark Myrie the relief he deserves.