Reggae star found guilty

A week after winning the Grammy for best reggae album, with 'Before the Dawn', Buju Banton was convicted on Tuesday in Florida of drugs charges following a sting.

The singer had been busted in December 2009, being taped making phonecalls setting up a deal to buy over 5 kg of cocaine from an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency officer. His lawyer David Markus said he could be looking at 15 years in jail.

He was found guilty of “conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute” cocaine. Markus plans to appeal the singer's conviction.

Also affectionately known as “Gargamel’’ the dancehall star’s trial - his second over the drug accusations - was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked. Newspapers in Jamaica report widespread unhappiness about the conviction and he has support from many at the top of the reggae/dancehall industry; Stephen Marley offered his own house up as bail in the trial. Buju’s concert last month at Miami’s Bayfront Park Amphitheatre is thought to have been one of the biggest reggae concerts in history and featured an array of stars including Freddie McGregor, Gyptian, Wayne Wonder and Gramps Morgan.

Gramps Morgan talked of his support for Buju Banton concerning his controversies (2010) following the drugs story:

Words by Reshma B (

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