Bid to Free Buju

AN organisation committed to getting reggae singer Buju Banton released from prison, has crafted a letter it hopes will end up on the desk of United States attorney general Eric Holder.

Last week, the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign (BBLWC) issued a letter saying its objective is to have 50,000 signatories by December 9, two years to the day Buju was arrested on drug charges in south Florida

The letter questions the June 23 guilty verdict that sent the 37-year-old entertainer to prison for 10 years. Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, presently incarcerated at the Limestone County Correctional Institution in Groesbeck, Texas.

According to the BBLWC’s letter, Buju “was charged as a result of information provided by a professional informant, Ian Johnson, who relentlessly pursued Buju for six months to participate in a drug deal. The professional informant in Buju’s case is a convicted drug trafficker”.

During the trial, it was revealed that the informant has been granted legal immigration status in the United States and has earned over US$3.3 million (tax free) for serving as an informant to various government agencies. Despite his earnings, Johnson testified that he does not pay taxes, does not pay his credit card bills and has declared bankruptcy.


Furthermore, during the trial, the lead investigator on the case, Sergeant Dan McCaffrey of the Drug Enforcement Agency stated that there was “no evidence that Buju was a drug trafficker and that their 13-month investigation yielded nothing”.

The letter concludes: “I urge you to investigate this matter and take the action necessary to correct this grave injustice”.

Buju — best known for songs like Browning and Driver and the epic 1995 album, Til Shiloh — was convicted in February of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it.

He was also convicted on another drug trafficking offence as well as a gun charge. He was acquitted of a fourth charge for attempted cocaine possession. He was found guilty in a second trial. The first ended in September 2010 when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Much of the prosecution’s case was based on video and audio recordings taken by an informant and by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

The informant was reportedly paid US$50,000 after Buju’s arrest.