Appeal Sinks for Reggae Giant on Drug Charges

     (CN) – Legendary reggae artist Buju Banton cannot appeal an order granting him a retrial on one of the three drug convictions against him, the 11th Circuit ruled.
     The charges against Mark Anthony Myrie aka Buju Banton stemmed from his conversation with a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Alexander Johnson, whom Myrie met on a trans-Atlantic flight in July 2009. Myrie told Johnson about his experience in the illegal drug trade and warned him about an acquaintance who he said had become a “snitch.”
     Myrie also discussed his plans to bring cocaine from Venezuela to Europe on a sailboat. He asked Johnson if he knew any suppliers, and then explained that he limited his involvement to financing drug transactions.
     Over the next several months, Myrie continued to speak to Johnson via telephone to discuss drug transactions.
     On Dec. 8 Myrie brought Ian Thomas with him to meet with Johnson. He told Johnson that Thomas knew prospective buyers for Johnson’s cocaine.
     When Johnson proposed a drug transaction, the group drove to a warehouse where undercover police were waiting with 30 kilograms of cocaine. Thomas then informed Johnson that Myrie would no longer come to the meetings.
     At a meeting between Johnson and Thomas the next day, Thomas brought another associate, James Mack, who he said worked for the buyers. They all drove to the warehouse where the undercover officers were waiting and Thomas and Mack were arrested. A loaded handgun was found in Mack’s car.
     Myrie was arrested at his home, indicted and charged with (1) conspiracy to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine; (2) attempt to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute; (3) possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm during the course of a drug trafficking crime; and (4) aiding and abetting the use of a telephone to commit a drug trafficking crime.
     A Florida jury found Myrie guilty of Counts 1, 3 and 4, but the entertainer managed in a second motion for a new trial to have his Count 3 conviction throw out for jury misconduct.
     The court determined the jury foreman in Myrie’s case had previously served on juries for criminal cases, took notes about the case in her car, researched the jury instructions, and informed other jurors about her research.
     Myrie went to the federal appeals court in Atlanta to seek retrial on the two other counts of which he was convicted, but a three-judge panel found Wednesday they lack jurisdiction “since the pending charge against Myrie prevents us from hearing his appeal at this point in the proceedings.”
     “If we were writing on a clean slate, we would conclude the district court’s order granting in part and denying in part Myrie’s motion for a new trial finally and irreparably affected Myrie’s rights as to Counts 1 and 4 and his convictions on those counts constituted separate cases which were brought to a conclusion by sentencing,” the unsigned order states.
     “We are not at liberty, however, to so hold,” the judges added.
     Myrie’s drug conspiracy did not put much of a dent in his music career. While serving his 10-year sentence in 2011, he won “Best Reggae Album of the Year” at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
     In 1992, Myrie broke Bob Marley’s record for most No. 1 singles in a year.

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