Anti-gay "murder music" singer Buju Banton, who has been jailed in Miami on federal drug conspiracy charges, has been moved to Tampa in advance of his arraignment in federal court today, reports the Miami Herald.
Four-time Grammy-nominated and controversial reggae star Buju Banton is scheduled to make his first appearance Thursday in a Tampa courtroom, where he faces federal drug charges. Banton, 36, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, is accused along with two others of trying to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute in early December from an undercover law-enforcement officer in Sarasota. Banton was arrested at his home in Tamarac on Dec. 10, and had been in federal lockup in Miami until early Tuesday morning when he was transferred to Tampa.
The federal drug conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Banton's label, Gargamel Music Inc., has retained well-regarded Miami criminal defense attorney David Oscar Markus, who tells ABC News the singer is innocent and was set up by "some evil people trying to take advantage of his trusting and honest character."
LGBT activists have called attention to Banton's "trusting and honest" lyrics, which incite violence and call for attacking, torturing and killing gays. His song "Boom Bye Bye", a dancehall anthem released in the 1990s, calls for shooting gays in the head and setting them on fire. In recent years, the singer's North American and European tour dates have routinely met with protests, demonstrations and cancellations. In October, San Francisco-based LGBT activists met with Banton and afterwards the reggae singer's anti-gay rhetoric appeared even more hardened: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs, 'There is no end to the war between me and faggot'."
Jamaican news coverage of Buju Banton's arrest has, predictably, attempted to link his legal problems to his anti-gay views.