The Atlanta hip-hop artist Young Thug was arrested Monday on felony charges of participating in gang activity and violating Georgia’s criminal racketeering law.
The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, was charged in a sweeping 56-count grand jury indictment that identified him and 27 other people as members of the criminal street gang Young Slime Life, or YSL, according to Atlanta news outlet WSB TV Channel 2. Some defendants were charged with violent crimes such as murder and attempted armed robbery, as well as participation in criminal street gang activity.
Fulton County jail records show Williams was booked on charges of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for an offense dating January 2013. In addition, he is charged with participating in criminal street gang activity for an offense dating May 2018.
The 88-page indictment alleges that Williams is a founder of Young Slime Life, which claims affiliation with the national Bloods gang. According to WSB TV, it charges Williams with renting a 2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan that was used in the commission of the 2015 murder of Donovan Thomas Jr., a rival gang member.
The indictment also brings charges against Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, 28, a chart-topping Atlanta rapper who goes by Gunna.
Williams, Kitchens and more than two dozen others listed in the indictment are charged with conspiring to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, closely modeled on the 1970 federal law that was used to convict top mobsters and gangsters who engaged in organized crime and frequently evaded conviction.
Young Thug is one of the most influential acts to emerge from Atlanta’s bustling hip-hop scene in the 2010s. Known for his melodic, mournful flow and gender-bending fashion aesthetic, he’s topped the Billboard 200 album chart three times, most recently with October’s LP “Punk,” which had guest turns from Drake, Doja Cat and the late Mac Miller.
Gunna’s most recent album, “DS4Ever,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second time topping that list. His single “Pushin P,” with Young Thug and Future, hit No. 7 on the Hot 100 and helped win him a “Saturday Night Live” performance slot in April.
Representatives for Young Thug and Gunna could not be reached for comment.
Williams’ arrest is being prosecuted by Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis, a Democrat who was elected in 2020 and swiftly found herself in the center of the firestorm over whether former President Trump and his associates committed election fraud in Georgia.
Over the last year, Willis has presided over an extensive investigation into whether Trump and others may have violated state RICO law as they allegedly tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A jury was selected earlier this month to hear evidence.
Willis has also made cracking down on Atlanta crime, a problem she has blamed on street gangs, a key mission of her tenure. Last November, she told a Georgia house committee that Atlanta had the fastest-rising crime rate during the pandemic of any large U.S. city. Murders in Fulton County, she said, had increased by 48% since 2020.
“It’s not just the violence,” Willis told 11 Alive news, a local NBC affiliate, in February. “It’s everything from car break-ins to burglaries to human trafficking to shootings. So, all spectrum of crime is being impacted by gang violence.”