TAMPA — Federal authorities arrested reggae artist Buju Banton late last week, saying he tried to buy at least 5 kilograms of cocaine in Sarasota.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, and two others contacted a police informant about buying cocaine, according to a criminal complaint.
On Dec. 8, Drug Enforcement Administration special agents set up a sting where they observed Banton inspect the cocaine offered by an undercover officer during negotiations. Two days later, authorities say, his associates, Ian Thomas and James Jackson Mack, made the purchase and were arrested.
Banton faces a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He is being charged in Tampa federal court.
In October, the Cuban Club's scheduling of a Banton concert drew a large-scale e-mail and telephone call protest led by Pride Tampa Bay, Equality Florida and the GaYBOR District Coalition, because of the song Boom Bye Bye, which they say incites violence against gays.
The protest prompted the Cuban Club to rewrite Banton's concert agreement and prohibit him from singing the song during the show.