Buju Banton Jailed 10 Years for Cocaine Trafficking

By Dirk Hanson 06/27/11

Reggae star gets minimum sentence allowable under Florida law.

Small victory: The dreads are safe.
Photo via risingstarstv

Rastafarian superstar Buju Banton got the bad news last week concerning his 2009 Florida conviction on cocaine and weapons charges. Judge James S. Moody of the Tampa Federal Court sentenced Banton to the minimum 10 years in prison allowable under the charges. The judge threw out the gun charges, since Banton himself had not been carrying a gun at the time he was arrested for his role in setting up a cocaine buy.

The singer’s last album, Before the Dawn, won a Grammy this year for Best Reggae Album. Buju, otherwise known as Mark Myrie, will not be allowed to record new material for release while in prison, officials said. He will, however, likely be able to keep his trademark dreadlocks. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons told the Jamaican Gleaner that prisoners are not “normally” required to remove body hair upon incarceration—even though federal courts have upheld at least two cases where federal prison grooming policies expressly prohibited beards and long hair.

Banton said in the New Musical Express: "The man is not dead. Don't call him a ghost. The days that lie ahead are filled with despair, but I have courage and grace and I'm hopeful, and that is sufficient to carry me through."

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]