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Reggae singer arrested in cocaine trafficking sting

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Posted on December 16, 2009 3:00 AM EST

A popular reggae star will appear in a Miami federal court at a scheduled bond hearing to determine whether he will be granted pre-trial release. A federal magistrate will decide Buju Banton's fate. He will appear with the criminal attorney he retained to at least represent him at the bond hearing. The bond hearing Miami criminal lawyer will argue to the magistrate that his client is not a danger to the community or a flight risk. If the magistrate awards a bond, he will likely attach a Nebbia requirement which demands that money and/or property put up for the bond are proven not be the proceeds of an illegal enterprise. After the hearing, Banton's case will be transferred to Tampa where the case will be assigned a different federal magistrate and judge.

Bantu is charged along with two other co-defendants with cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. Apparently, on December 8, 2009, Bantu traveled to Sarasota where a meeting was effectuated between Bantu and a confidential informant (CI). The CI convinced the parties to relocate the meeting to a warehouse. At the warehouse, an undercover officer purportedly showed them 20 kilograms of cocaine. The following day, one of Bantu's alleged co-conspirators contacted the CI and told him he was interested in purchasing 15 kilos of cocaine. Eventually, two of the co-conspirators returned to the warehouse where they were arrested. Tape recorded conversations and the actions of the participants is the evidence federal prosecutors are relying on to prove the case. Although Bantu never came in contact with the cocaine, the taped recorded conversations can still link him to the conspiracy.

As a Miami criminal defense lawyer who defends cocaine trafficking cases throughout Miami and the South Florida area, many lessons can be learned from this arrest. Arrests have occurred for drug trafficking and drug sales on daily basis in Miami and South Florida over the past decade. What happened to the individuals who had previously been arrested? A large number of those previously arrested have agreed to cooperate with federal or state authorities to reduce or cut their sentences. In order to cooperate, many of these individuals become informants. The reduction in their sentence is directly linked to the number of cases they set up for law enforcement. The point is, that even if someone thinks they know who they are dealing with, they may be unaware that they are being set up for an arrest.

A large number of cocaine trafficking cases result from sting operations that occur within warehouses operated by law enforcement. In all cases, these warehouses are wired for sound and video. It is difficult enough to defend trafficking cases because of the manpower and resources provided to drug enforcement details. A case is much more difficult to defend when individuals are captured on audio and video cutting into the cocaine and striking a deal. With that in mind, anyone who endeavors to engage in drug trafficking should aware of who they are dealing with and their surroundings. Of course, the best option is not to become involved because all drug trafficking offenses carry stiff penalties both in state and federal court.

Reggae Star Banton Busted, TBO.com, December 15, 2009.
Categories: Drug Offenses
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