Rap Star Young Thug, one of the biggest hip-hop artists to come out of Atlanta in recent years, was arrested on George state charges this week on suspicions of gang activity and conspiring to violate state and Georgia racketeering laws.
Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, was charged in a federal indictment that ID’d him and 27 others as part of a notorious criminal street gang. Some of them also have been charged with attempted arm robbery and murder.
Williams has been a major influence on the rap music world in his 10-year career, inspiring many other artists while three of his albums have become best-sellers across the US.
The federal charges arrest comes as the District Attorney in Atlanta, Fani Willis, has pledged to crack down on street gangs in the area. Atlanta and Fulton County have been reeling from an uptick in violent crime in the past three years.
Williams Arrested in Tony Buckhead Neighborhood
Williams was arrested by federal agents in the exclusive Buckhead neighborhood, and other people named in the indictment also were arrested at the same time.
The federal indictment states that Williams is the founder of Young Slime Life, a violent criminal street gang in Atlanta that started in 2012. It also is affiliated with the national Bloods street gang.
Williams has a successful record label that is sometimes called Young Stoner Life Records, and the label often refers to its musicians as members of the Slime Family. There was a compilation rap album named Slime Language that was #1 on national charts in 2021.
All 28 named in the indictment were charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in Georgia. The state law is modeled on the national RICO law that has been used in recent decades to crack down on organized crime.
Fulton County DA Willis has led a racketeering prosecution effort since 2014 in which public school teachers in the city allegedly cheated on standardized tests. She also has suggested that former President Trump and some allies could have violated Georgia’s RICO law in their questions about the 2020 election.
Gang Violence On The Rise In Atlanta
Willis and other Georgia politicians have been alarmed in the last three years about gang violence in Atlanta. In the past, gang activity wasn’t as common as in other large American cities. In a public meeting this year, Willis said gang activity was the top threat to public safety in Atlanta. She claimed that gangs were responsible for 70% of all crimes in the state.
The state indictment against Williams comes when other large-city politicians and police are concerned about hip-hop musicians glorifying criminal activity. These rappers also sometimes have ties to criminal street gangs, which are a growing problem as the country deals with a rise in violent crimes.
The concerns about violent crime mirror the politics and discussions of the 1980s and 1990s, when violent gangster rap music lyrics were pointed to as a possible instigator of violent crime.
88-Page Indictment Alleges Vast Array Of Serious Crimes
The 88-page state indictment handed down this week alleges the street gang took part in many serious crimes: murder, attempted murder, intimidation of witnesses, robbery, theft, and drug trafficking.
Several people were identified in the indictment as victims of shootings and attempted shootings, such as Dwayne Carter, a New Orleans rapper. Carter’s tour bus was shot at a Young Slime Life gang member in 2015.
The DA alleges Williams committed several crimes that he has not been charged with. However, they are allegedly ‘overt acts’ that further the gang’s criminal activities. One allegation was where Williams allegedly threatened to kill a man in a shopping center. Williams also allegedly possessed methamphetamine and tried to distribute it.
He also is alleged to have rented an Infiniti sedan that was mused to murder a rival gang member, Donovan Thomas. Five men have been charged with murder connected to his death, and one of them is a musician on the YSL record label.
Drew Findling, Williams’ defense attorney, would not comment about the case on Monday. However, another attorney working for him said on Tuesday that YSL isn’t part of a street gang.
That attorney argued that Williams came from a violent upbringing and has led a clean life and hasn’t committed any crimes.
Rapper Sergio Kitchens Also Charged With Conspiracy
Rapper Sergio Kitchens has also been charged with racketeering conspiracy. The charging document also names him as a recipient of stolen property and engaging in drug trafficking.
In previous state court documents, state prosecutors have detailed how another group of Bloods-related street gangs have engaged in a violent struggle with YSL members. For example, in 2021, Willis charged 12 people were gang members in that Bloods-affiliated group of gangs.
One of the gang members was Rayshawn Bennett, a famous rapper known as YFN Lucci. Bennett was indicted for felony murder related to a drive-by shooting in Atlanta.
The state indictment chargest this week charged three YSL members with attempted murder in a jail attack on Bennett.
DA Willis stated in a press conference that she isn’t impressed that Williams is a famous rapper, and that won’t keep him from being indicted or potentially convicted.
In that press event, Willis blasted a state judge who granted bond to a rapper known as Big Bhris. He is allegedly a YSL member and shot a police officer in Atlanta six times in a February attack.
Wilis seems to be focused on using Williams’ rap lyrics against him. In one song, for example, Williams sang “I have never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body.”