Buju was sentenced by US District Judge James Moody, four months after being convicted of conspiracy to set up a cocaine deal in 2009 and was facing up to 15 years in prison.
The courtroom was packed with friends, family members and supporters to hear whether the judge would heed calls of leniency. As Judge Moody delivered the heavy sentence that the 37-year-old will serve at a federal prison in Florida; they all hugged each other and broke down in tears, while the singer remained calm.
The judge received several letters from Buju’s children, relatives and fans prior to his sentencing, asking the he be shown some mercy.
The Associated Press reported previously that a former Jamaican government official, an NBA player, other reggae artists and actor Danny Glover, who called Buju a “role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community”, were also among those who made appeals.
“Your honour, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer,” Glover wrote. “Society would not benefit from his incarceration.”
Markus had contended that Buju’s limited participation in the drug deal, his charitable work in Jamaica and his otherwise clean record entitled him to a reduced sentence.
Buju was found guilty in February of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking; and using a telephone to commit a drug offence.
The court heard during the trial that he boasted to a government informant that he was a big drug dealer and talked about setting up the purchase of 11 pounds of cocaine.
Prosecutors presented several audio tapes of their conversations as well as videos, including one in which Buju was seen tasting cocaine. But the singer claimed he was just “talking big” to impress the man whom he thought was influential and could help his career.
The singer went through a first trial in September last year but that ended in a mistrial after the jury could not reach a verdict.