Pharcyde's J-Swift in Canadian Prison and Facing Deportation to Spain

BY Gregory AdamsPublished Feb 27, 2015

A recent Vancouver tour stop has led to serious legal problems for Pharcyde producer J-Swift, who is now facing deportation to Spain after being denied entry back into the U.S.

Travelling with former Pharcyde rappers Fat Lip and SlimKid3, Swift made his way into Canada for a January 14 concert at Vancouver's Fortune Sound Club, the arrival coming without any issues since he had a valid work visa. The next day, though, Swift (real name Juan Martinez) was stopped by U.S. custom authorities at the Vancouver airport, and they denied him entry into the U.S. He was taken to a federal prison in Vancouver.

While the 43-year-old hip-hop figure was born in Madrid, he's lived in California since the age of two. He's held a green card as a "Legal Permanent Resident" since 1974. He lives in Inglewood, CA, with his wife and four children.

"L.A. is the only home I've known. I'm terrified I won't be able to see my wife again or my kids grow up," Swift told the L.A. Weekly on the line from prison. "My mom is 70 years old, handicapped, and afraid that she's going to die without ever being able to see me again."

Shortly after the arrest, Swift was granted permission to stay with musician friends in Vancouver. After failing to show up on time for a court-mandated appearance, he was put back into prison. Multiple attempts by lawyers to get Swift back into the U.S. have been denied. If not granted re-entry, authorities will put Swift on a plane to Madrid on March 26.

Complicating the matter are a handful of previous legal problems. Swift faced a burglary conviction in the early '90s during the L.A. riots and has been arrested for drug possession. Most recently, he was picked up in 2012 for possessing less than an ounce of crack cocaine. A California immigration judge ruled for his deportation in August 2014, to which Swift applied for an appeal. [Edit: one of the judge's mandates after the appeal process was that Swift not leave the country.]

"This all basically comes back to two small drug charges. I've never sold drugs. I'm not a criminal. I beat a demon and have been sober for three years and providing for my children," Swift said. "My only hope now is to go to Spain and continue my appeal, get my travel documents re-organized and pay a lawyer to try to get me back into America while I wait on my appeal. But if I can't raise a thousand dollars to pay him, I'm doomed."

A fundraiser to help pay the Pharcyde member's legal fees is currently up on GoFundMe. Thus far, only $350 US ($438 CDN) of the $25,000 goal has been raised.

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