Prosecutors allege in a sprawling indictment that charges Atlanta rapper Young Thug, rapper Gunna, and 26 others with racketeering that they co-founded a violent street gang that committed multiple murders, shootings, and carjackings over the course of a decade and promoted its activities in songs and on social media.
Multiple music videos are used as evidence in the 88-page indictment issued Monday in Georgia’s Fulton County, which also charges accused gang members of targeting other high-profile rap artists.
“It doesn’t matter what your notoriety or fame is, if you come to Fulton County, Georgia, and commit crimes, you will become a target and a focus of this district attorney’s office, and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis said at a news conference announcing the charges on Tuesday.
Young Thug’s real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, and he co-wrote the single This is America with Childish Gambino, which made history by becoming the first hip-hop song to win a Grammy for song of the year in 2019. According to Fulton County authorities, he and two others created Young Slime Life, a violent criminal street gang that is associated with the national Bloods gang.
He was arrested at his house in Buckhead, a posh area north of Atlanta, on Monday. On allegations of conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Rico Act and membership in a violent street gang, he was being held in the Fulton County jail.
Young Thug’s lawyer, Brian Steel, informed news outlets that “Mr. Williams committed no crime whatsoever” and that he would “fight to the death to exonerate him.”
Rapper Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, and aspiring rapper Christian Eppinger, who was already in jail and is suspected of killing an Atlanta police officer six times in February, were also named in the indictment. As of Tuesday afternoon, Gunna, who is suspected of conspiring to violate the state’s Rico Act, was still at large, according to Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat.
In addition to specific allegations, the indictment lists 181 activities that prosecutors claim were undertaken as part of the purported Rico conspiracy to advance the gang’s objectives beginning in 2013.
According to the indictment, Williams rented an Infiniti vehicle for five suspected gang members to use when they shot and killed a rival gang member in 2015.
According to the indictment, Williams and Kitchens had methamphetamine, hydrocodone, and marijuana in their possession in 2017 and were involved in traffic check the following year in which one of the vehicles had many guns with large-capacity magazines, including an AK-47.
It quotes Williams’ lyrics from a number of music videos, including one from 2018 in which he states, “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” and “I commanded them to shoot a hundred bullets.”
Willis said she feels the song lyrics listed in the indictment are “overt and predicate activities” that support the Rico accusation.
“If that’s true, the First Amendment doesn’t shield people from prosecutors utilizing it as evidence,” she said.
Members of the gang are also accused of attempting to kill rapper YFN Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett, by “stabbing and stabbing at” him with a shank in the Fulton County jail, according to the indictment. A year ago, YFN Lucci was one among a dozen defendants charged in a Rico-related gang indictment in Fulton County.
With “DS4Ever,” Gunna, who is signed to Thug’s Young Stoner Life label, achieved his second No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album list this year. The Grammy-nominated musician is best known for popularizing the viral catchphrase “Pushin P,” which is frequently utilized on social media by athletes like LeBron James and Dez Bryant, as well as professional sports teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors. “Keeping it real,” the rapper explained.
According to the indictment, a gang member shot at a bus carrying musician Lil Wayne in 2015.
Willis stated that she intends to seek the harshest sanctions for those charged in the indictment. That might mean life in prison for some of them.