Once again, Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, is featured on the cover of this week’s Miami New Times. The story, “Buju Banton Is Innocent,” penned by staff writer Chris Sweeney, details the events leading up to the Reggae star’s arrest, and duly picks apart the government’s case, which hinged on the testimony of career criminal, Alexander Johnson.
A convicted drug trafficker turned government informant, Johnson worked vigorously for months to set Buju up, bringing his potential “big catch” to the attention of pals at the DEA and overzealous prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney James C. Preston, Jr. who he has been working hand-in-hand with for the last 10 years.
Thoroughly researched and incredibly well written, this compelling feature is the first to paint a fuller picture of Buju’s life’s work and the seedy circumstances surrounding the government’s case. Sweeney writes:
“The saga sheds light on how far the government will go and how dirty it will play to win the few big battles left in the long-ago failed War on Drugs. Now, while one of the most successful and controversial Jamaican artists — a man who won a Grammy for best reggae album a year ago — sits in a Miami penitentiary, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether unconstitutional tactics were used to nail a man who had no known criminal record.”
A sidebar piece in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times takes a closer look at government snitch Johnson, and breaks down the millions of dollars he’s made off the backs of US taxpayers, while working as a confidential informant. Sweeney writes:
“But Johnson isn’t a U.S. citizen, and he’ll never be one due to his felony-laden criminal record. Yet he has managed to earn nearly $3.5 million of taxpayer money while working as a confidential informant. He’s a persistent and crafty snitch who used booze and claims of music industry contacts to lure Buju, a Grammy-winning reggae artist, into environments he may otherwise have avoided.”
The entire story is available online now. Hard copies will begin circulating in South Florida on Wednesday evening. Big respect to Chris Sweeney and The Miami New Times for making sure the full regarding this case is told.