With co-defendants bailing out, is Buju ready to plea bargain?


Buju Banton’s cocaine-related case hit another snag yesterday when it was reported in the Tampa Bay Online that the second of his two co-defendants has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the US government.

James Mack, 48, will plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 or more kilos of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Both charges carry up to life in federal prison. Mack previously signed an affidavit stating he never met Banton before his arrest, and that Banton had no knowledge of the money and gun that were in Mack's car.

His other co-defendant, Ian Thomas, 43, was scheduled to plead guilty yesterday afternoon to the conspiracy charge. He also has agreed to cooperate with the government.

Buju, after being jailed in Florida since December last year, goes on trial on federal drug charges Monday.

From day one, Florida-based, Jamaican attorney-at-law David Rowe had stated that he thought it was best that the Grammy-nominated Reggae artiste enter into a plea bargain in his cocaine-related case in the US.

Banton’s lawyers, however, say their client was entrapped. Now, with his two co-defendants turning State witnesses against him, Banton must be having bouts of diarrhea. The next couple of days will be crucial as Buju and his lawyers hunker down and prepare to tell previously untold stories.