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Buju Banton’s co-accused released

KINGSTON — Ian Thomas, one of the co-conspirators in the Buju Banton drug case, has been released from federal prison.

Thomas — who the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website said was released on August 23 — and James Mack were held in a police-controlled warehouse in Tampa, Florida , attempting to purchase a large quantity of cocaine from undercover Drug Enforcement Agents.

A quantity of cash and an illegal pistol were later found in a car Mack was driving at the time.

That same day Banton, whose right name is Mark Myrie, was arrested at his home in Tamarac, South Florida.

Mack and Thomas both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to testify against the Jamaican entertainer in exchange for lesser sentences.

Mack, who is currently serving time in a federal prison in Sacramento, California, is slated for release on November 11 this year.

Banton has been adamant that he is innocent of the charges and despite being sentenced to 10 years is fighting for a new trial after the jury foreperson in his second trial, Teri Wright, was found guilty of contempt of court after it was revealed that she had disobeyed an order from Magistrate James Moody not to study any aspect of the law as it related to Banton’s case.

Banton is seeking to ask a US court to throw out his guilty verdict on the grounds that the jury was tainted.

In the meantime, the Buju Banton Defence Support Committee, in a release yesterday, said it remained at a loss in understanding how the foreperson of the jury could be found in contempt of court during the trial and follow-up hearing, yet only one of that jury’s decisions was thrown out.

And the committee — an international group of Banton’s friends and civil rights activists — yesterday denied a local media report that the imprisoned entertainer has retained his former lawyer, David Oscar Markus on his legal team. (Observer)

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