Tag Archives: Miami

Miami New Times Cover Story Proclaims Buju Banton’s Innocence

Buju Banton Is Innocent

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.



Filed under Buju Banton General, Buju Banton Media Watch, United States vs Buju Banton

The Caged Bird Sings Of Freedom

The caged bird sings

With a fearful trill

Of things unknown

But longed for still

And his tune is heard

On the distant hill

For the caged bird

Sings of freedom.

Dr. Maya Angelou (from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings)

Freedom! Photo By: Robert Cooper

Greetings in the name of the Most High…

As you can imagine, the Gargamel Music Family’s entire world was shattered by the outcome of Buju’s trial. Two months have passed and the heartache has not eased at all. We lost a long, hard-fought battle but, alas, this legal war wages on. We remain confident in Buju’s innocence and vigilant in our fight for his ultimate freedom. There is nuff work to be done and the time has come for us to pick up the pieces and march forward in the struggle.

Buju’s strength and resolve throughout this painful ordeal has been nothing short of inspiring. He is a true soldier who continues to stand firm in his beliefs and will not be broken. He earnestly thanks his friends for life — the fans worldwide — for your unyielding support and only asks that you remember him in a positive light and continue to play his music in the days to come.

We encourage you to send uplifting letters to Buju at the address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie – Docket # 1443397


Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

If you feel like you want to top up B’s commissary, include a money order with all of the above information written on it (Mark’s legal name/docket number, etc…) and place it in the envelope with your letter. The guards who open the mail will make sure it’s added onto his account.


We recently sat down with Buju’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, who took the time to school us on how the sentencing and appeal processes works so we have a better sense of what to expect.

The trial and sentencing judge, James Moody, Jr. still has yet to rule on either of the post trial motions filed by Markus back in February: 1) motion for judgement of acquittal  2) motion for a new trial. Markus filed a separate third motion for bond pending sentencing and appeal that he is also waiting to hear from the Court on.

Buju’s sentencing is currently scheduled for June 23rd. While Judge Moody can take other things into account, he still must abide by the current mandatory minimum drug sentencing guidelines, which based on the three convictions: 1) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 or more kilograms of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine  2) knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and 3) using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense, bring the mandatory minimum in this case to 15 years.

  • After sentencing, Markus has 14 days to file a notice of appeal. Then he will order the trial transcripts, which will take about 30 days.
  • As soon as Markus gets the transcripts, he has 40 days to file a brief, which will contain his arguments.
  • The government gets 40 days to respond. Markus gets 40 days to reply.
  • Then the Court will decide whether to allow oral argument (where 3 judges listen to the case). Only 10% of all appeal cases are granted this opportunity.
  • After oral argument, the Court usually takes between a month and a year to rule.

Those who wish to donate funds toward the appeal may send a wire transfer to the official Buju Banton Defense Fund set up by his attorney:

Markus & Markus, PLLC
(Defense Fund for Buju Banton)
Citibank, N A
Coral Way Branch
1600 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145
ABA # 266086554
Account # 9118130472

You may also make a donation via Paypal. Just log in and direct monies to FREEBUJU@gmail.com

The Gargamel Music Family remains steadfast in our efforts to promote and preserve the musical legacy of Buju Banton. As he reiterated in his Miami New Times cover story in January of this year, “they can lock the flesh but they can never lock the spirit of Rasta.” We intend to keep Buju’s spirit moving and his voice soaring — through music… And we already have several projects in development:

Buju Banton & Friends: Before The Dawn Concert DVD

We are working out the logistics to make the official DVD of the Before The Dawn Concert available for sale later this year. We are aware of the weak bootleg circulating on the streets and will deal with the culprits accordingly. In the meantime, we just ask that the fans hold on and support the real product when it comes out. It will definitely be worth the wait.

New Buju Banton Studio Album

While the General was out on bail and under house arrest he finished up some tracks for an album co-produced with longtime UK brethren, Blacker Dread. The pair previously worked together on the rousing 2010 anthem “Innocent” featured on Buju’s Grammy-winning album Before The Dawn (Gargamel Music). This new album will drop some time in 2012 on Gargamel Music, Inc.

Buju Banton Live Album

Team Gargamel has collected some amazing live material over the past few years and we plan to release the first Buju Banton live album some time in the near future.

Buju Banton Coffee Table Book

For the past few years we’ve been shooting with esteemed celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (Too Bad and Rasta Got Soul album covers) to produce a photography book that visually captures the excitement and frenetic energy of Buju’s live performances along with some exclusive behind-the-scenes moments on the road with the artist and his band.

Gargamel Music Website

At long last, we are in the process of revamping the Gargamel Music website. www.GARGAMELMUSIC.com will be the hub for all things Buju Banton on the web. We will also be selling authentic Buju Banton merchandise, including the Official Free Buju T-Shirts, which are now available in a Limited Edition Red in addition to the original Black and Green color waves. And keep your eyes peeled for the brand new Buju Banton Logo Tee that will be available at relaunch!

The Gargamel Music Family Thanks You For Your Support!


Filed under Buju Banton General, Buju Banton Music, United States vs Buju Banton

Buju Banton’s Before The Dawn Concert Live Webcast To Reach Fans Across The Globe

Fans around the globe who are unable to make the trek to Miami for the historic Before The Dawn Concert featuring Buju Banton & Friends will have the unique opportunity to watch the event online. Gargamel Music and Rockers Island have partnered with New York-based Webcast provider CMX Events to produce a High Definition (HD) Before The Dawn Concert Webcast. The pay per view program will stream live on the Internet from 5pm – 10pm EST on Sunday, January 16th and will be available for a period of 24 hours after the show.

Those fans who are making the trek to Miami but haven’t yet bought their tickets can still go online to BUJULIVE.com or head to the Bayfront Park Amphitheater box office on Sunday where tickets will be sold from 12 Noon. The Before The Dawn Concert features a blockbuster lineup of artists, including Stephen Marley, Shaggy, Gramps Morgan, Wayne Wonder, Freddie McGregorTarrus Riley, Dean Fraser, Nadine Sutherland, Everton Blender and several surprise guests! Gates open at 4pm. Show begins at 5pm sharp.

A limited amount of Official Free Buju T-Shirts will be available for sale at the park for a discounted price of $25. Get there early to get yours!


Filed under Buju Banton General, Buju Banton Music, Buju Banton Videos

Buju Banton & Friends To Perform At Before The Dawn Concert in Miami on January 16, 2011!!!

News of Buju Banton‘s 2010 Grammy nod for his prophetic new album, Before The Dawn, comes on the heels of a federal court ruling by Judge James Moody that allows Banton, who is currently out on bail, to perform at an event in South Florida during Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. The veteran Reggae artist, who had been incarcerated at Pinellas County Jail for 11 months, has not performed live in over a year.

Produced by Rocker’s Island Entertainment and Gargamel Music, the Before The Dawn Concert featuring Buju Banton & Friends will take place on Sunday, January 16 at Bayfront Park Amphitheater (301 North Biscayne Blvd.) in downtown Miami, Florida. Additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Music for the event will be provided by New York’s Hot 97’s  finest, Massive B with Bobby Konders and Jabba. A family affair, doors open at 4:00pm and the show starts at 5:00pm sharp and ends promptly at 10:00pm. Kids under 12 enter FREE with an adult!

Tickets for the history making Before The Dawn Concert featuring Buju Banton & Friends are on sale now at BUJULIVE.com and/or TICKETMASTER.com. For more information or to rent a booth, please call 305.438.9488.

Get your Official Free Buju T-Shirts now by sending an email to freebuju@gmail.com!!!!


Filed under Buju Banton General, Buju Banton Music

NEW VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUJU BANTON – “Optimistic Soul”

“Optimistic Soul,” the brand new single from Buju Banton‘s Grammy-nominated album, Rasta Got Soul (Gargamel Music), officially drops digitally on Tuesday, March 23rd. Shot and directed guerilla style by esteemed Atlanta-based photographer, Zach Wolfe, the music video documents the last five days of Banton’s historic Rasta Got Soul US Tour.


Filed under Buju Banton Music, Buju Banton Videos

Shocking Details About Government Snitch In Banton Case Revealed!

Banton Battles Back

Thursday, March 4th proved to be a revelatory day for Team Banton, who appeared in US District Court in Tampa, Florida for two hearings. The first proceeding at 8:30am was handled by the judge who will actually be overseeing the trial, Judge James Moody. After conferring with the attorneys, Moody locked in the trial start date for Monday, April 19th.

The second proceeding, held before Magistrate Thomas Wilson at 10:30am,  focused on the series of motions filed last month by Banton’s criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, requesting additional information about the government snitch who set up Buju Banton. According to Markus, the government has been slow to turn over documents, transcripts and other key information related to the case.

Here’s a few of the shocking details that were revealed about the still unnamed government snitch who set up the Reggae icon:

He transported over 2,000 kilos of cocaine and 3-4,000 kilos of marijuana between 1984 and 1993!

He was convicted in South Florida in 1993 of distributing cocaine in a case that brought a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years!

He has been paid 3.3 million dollars for helping law enforcement (DEA, Customs, FBI, Sarasota PDs) in numerous cases over several years!

He is a legal permanent resident of the United States from Colombia and was granted that immigration status only after law enforcement requested it!

He is paid on a contingency basis and looks to collect approximately $35,000 from the Banton case!

His credibility was called into question by one judge who doubted the truthfulness of his testimony in a case!

He is currently involved in a tax dispute with the IRS!

He has worked consistently with Assistant US Attorney James Preston, the prosecutor handling Banton’s case, for the last 10 years!

Markus argued in court that he needs more information to adequately cross-examine the government’s star witness, including specifics on the snitch’s criminal history, details of his tax case, transcripts from other cases he has testified in and a list of the amounts of money he has earned in each case. Assistant US Attorney Preston countered that his office already turned over any favorable information that might help the defense, as required by the court.

Nevertheless, Magistrate Wilson ordered the prosecution to provide the defense with a list of all the cases (w/ case numbers) the informant has testified in and any communications by criminal law officer or prosecutor asking for beneficial treatment in the informant’s tax case and immigration file. The prosecution has 14 days to turn over everything to Team Banton.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Mannion


Filed under United States vs Buju Banton

DJ Khaled Supports Buju Banton

In a recent interview with the newly relaunched VIBE.com, Miami-based  DJ Khaled voices his support for longtime friend and collaborator, Buju Banton: “He’s a friend of mine and I know him for being a great person, great family man and being a great artist and a real dude,” says Khaled, who is preparing the release of his fourth album, Victory. “Buju Banton, I salute, that’s my brother right there and his music is amazing. Free Buju Banton!”


Filed under United States vs Buju Banton