Main prosecution witness takes the stand in Buju Banton trial
TAMPA, Florida — The prosecution called its main witness to the stand this morning as the second day of the trial involving Reggae superstar Buju Banton got underway in this city.
Alexander Johnson, the Colombian informant who is assisting in trying to secure a conviction against the artiste, testified that he met Banton on a flight from Madrid, Spain to Miami Florida. The flight lasted eight hours, Johnson said, and a conversation about drug dealing came up within an hour.
The prosecution then played recordings where Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was heard telling Johnson, “I am about making money, straight up” and “I have 15 children to send to school”.
Myrie was also heard asking Johnson if he had any contacts to acquire cocaine as he was willing to finance a deal. He also told Johnson that he did not have contacts in Venezuela and Panama but that he was involved in smuggling diamonds from Africa to Europe.
He was also heard telling Johnson that “It would be good to have our own contacts. I would like to start small with five keys as I don’t want to take any risks”.
The artiste also warned the informant that he should stay away from a man known as Lloyd Evans as “There are a lot of snitches in the game”.
Myrie, dressed in a grey sports coat, shook his head while the recordings were being played. One of his female supporters covered her ears when the recordings were being played, while some chuckled in disbelief. Others seemed captivated by the recordings.
Yesterday Myrie’s attorney David Markus told the court that his client was guilty of talking a lot and had made a crucial mistake of sampling contraband. He also painted Johnson as a well paid government informant who entrapped people to get involved in drug dealing.
Drug Enforcement Agent Daniel McCeaffrey also testified yesterday that despite investigating the artiste for a year, he had uncovered no evidence to suggest that Myrie was involved in any drug deal or had benefitted from any drug deal.
The court is now in recess and Johnson is set to resume his testimony at 1:30 Tampa time in courthouse 13A in the Gibbons US Court in downtown Tampa.