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Trinidad: Buju Banton gets midnight visit from Commissioner Gary who wants answers

By Richard Charan

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Griffith (left) and Buju

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — Police Commissioner Gary Griffith met with Buju Banton shortly before midnight Saturday at his hotel room at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre.

According to a statement from the TTPS, Griffith told Buju that he was there to give an assurance that he and members of his team will not have any further interference in the lead up to Buju’s I am Legend concert later today.

Griffith said he was concerned that the intelligence used to obtained a warrant and search Buju’s room was flawed, and was additional incentive for him to restructure the operations of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) which was involved in the search.

Buju (Mark Myrie) will be joined by Jamaican reggae star Koffee (Mikayla Simpson), reggae legend Luciano (Jepther McClymont), veteran dancehall crooner Wayne Wonder (Von Wayne Charles) and Singing Melody (Everton Hardweare) at Sunday’s showcase.

Local acts Mr. King (Marvin Lewis), Ataklan (Mark Jiminez), Isasha (Brendon Young), Kes the Band, Ziggy Rankin (Khouri Francis) and Jamelody (Michael Williams) are also scheduled to appear.

Gfiffith said he was aware of the “embarrassment, anxiety and inconvenience the search executed by officers earlier had on him and his team”.

However, this was not at all a personal attack on Buju or his team, said Griffith.

Buju was arrested and detained by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in 2009 and convicted, in 2011, of drug trafficking offenses in the United States.

He spent over a decade in federal custody and released release on December 7, 2018.

Buju was given special permission by the Ministry of National Security to enter the country due to his criminal past. He arrived on Friday.

Police officers turned up at his hotel on Saturday and executed a search that has caused an international furure.

Griffith gave Buju Banton the assurance that he will do all within his power to ensure the rest of his stay in this country remains peaceful and incident free, the statement read.

Regarding the search of Buju’s room, Griffith said the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) received certain information; and as a result they executed a search warrant at the room.

Griffith said that if intelligence is received officers must act, but nothing illegal was found.

Commissioner Griffith says he is concerned that the intelligence was flawed. He said when intelligence is received, officers are supposed to follow up by doing surveillance.

“The Commissioner is now investigating whether or not this done” said the TTPS.

Griffith said the hotel incident was further cause for him to complete the streamlining and restructuring of the operations of the OCIU.

In an Instagram post following the search on Saturday, Buju wrote: “I was chilling in my hotel room and cops came to check me. They got a warrant to check my room and stuff. I’m here in Trinidad for the people with my band. I just want them to know, no matter what, they can’t break us. We see what’s going on. We just want you to see what’s going on, what they’re planning. How can you obtain a search warrant for a hotel room, on a Saturday? Ok! I still have love for you Trinidad, they can’t distract us, that’s why we’re here for you, not them. Peace!”

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