Buju Banton, shortly after his initial arrest in 2009 (photo: U.S. Marshalls Service)

Buju Banton, shortly after his initial arrest in 2009 (photo: U.S. Marshalls Service)

Buju Banton is perhaps one of the most well-known dancehall and reggae artists in Jamaica, but his career came to a halt back in 2011 when he was indicted on federal drug charges.

Mark Myrie, professionally known as Buju Banton, rose to fame in 1992 when he surpassed Bob Marley’s record for holding the most number one hits on the Jamaican charts.

On December 8th, the 45-year-old was released from Georgia’s McRae Correctional Institute after serving a seven-year sentence.

The legal drama for Buju Banton started in 2009 when the artist was on a flight traveling from Spain to the United States.  According to a U.S. government report, Banton was seated next to an informant who was paid by the federal government to help gain reputable evidence that could be used in court against the future defendant.

Once the agent and Buju Banton started conversing, the Jamaican native reportedly started bragging about his heavy involvement in a large cocaine ring.  This lead to U.S. agents setting up a sting that involved the sale of 11 pounds of cocaine for $135,000.

Banton ended up being held in Pinellas County jail until the trial started on February 14th of 2011.  The court proceedings were held at the Sam M. Gibbons courthouse, where the prosecution had both audio and video of Buju Banton conducting the cocaine trade deal.

They also had video of Banton tasting cocaine at a different location.  This evidence lead to the reggae star being sentenced to 10-plus years in prison, and the singer was expected to immediately return to his native country after his sentence was served.

As expected, when Buju Banton was released this Friday, and footage emerged of him promptly boarding a plane to return to his home country.

Despite his federal charges, Jamaicans were said to be eagerly awaiting his return.  The Guardian reported that Buju’s arrival is the most heavily anticipated since the Emperor of Ethiopia’s return back in 1966.  The Jamaican artist is expected to be welcomed with open arms as he returns to his native island.