Rapper Gunna was booked into an Atlanta jail Wednesday on a racketeering charge after he was indicted with fellow rapper Young Thug and more than two dozen other people for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The 88-page indictment filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court whose defendants Gunna, 28, given name is Sergio Kitchens, of violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering law. Young Thug, 30, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, is accused of co-founding a violent street gang named Young Slime Life commonly known as YSL that committed multiple murders, shootings and carjackings over roughly a decade. YSL is affiliated with the national Bloods gang.
Monday’s indictment names of 26 other defendants outside of Young Thug and Gunna and includes a wide-ranging list of 181 acts that prosecutors say were committed beginning in 2013. Prosecutors say the alleged racketeering conspiracy was used to further the gang’s interests, using lyrics and music videos as evidence.
Young Thug was arrested Monday at his home in Buckhead, an upscale neighborhood north of downtown Atlanta, and is being held at the Fulton County Jail.
Gunna is signed to Thug’s Young Stoner Life record label and scored his second No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart with his recent “DS4Ever” album and was Grammy-nominated for his work on Doja Cat’s “Planet Her” album and for his 2018 song “Drip Too Hard.”
“It does not matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is, if you come to Fulton County, Georgia, and you commit crimes, … you are going to become a target and a focus of this district attorney’s office, and we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the charges.
Young Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel maintained his client’s innocence Tuesday, telling USA TODAY in a statement, “Mr. Williams has committed no violation of law, whatsoever. We will fight this case ethically, legally and zealously. Mr. Williams will be cleared.”
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Gunna and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office for comment and further details.
Young Thug appeared in court Tuesday to hear his charges.
Willis said she respects the First Amendment right to free speech, but she believes the song lyrics cited in the indictment are “overt and predicate acts” that support the RICO charge.
“The First Amendment does not protect people from prosecutors using it as evidence if it is so,” she said.
The indictment also accuses members of the gang of trying to kill rapper YFN Lucci, whose given name is Rayshawn Bennett, by “stabbing and stabbing at” him with a shank in the Fulton County Jail. YFN Lucci was among a dozen people charged in another gang-related RICO indictment in Fulton County a year ago.
An alleged member of the YSL gang is also accused of shooting at a bus in 2015 that was carrying rapper Lil Wayne.
YSL is mainly active in southeast Atlanta and the Cleveland Avenue area but is expanding its activity into the surrounding metro area, prosecutors say. Its members are identifiable by their green or red bandanas — red for Bloods and green for Slime — and clothes with the letters “YSL” or the word “Slime,” the indictment says.
Young Thug’s legal history
This isn’t the first time Young Thug has faced legal trouble.
In 2018, the rapper was arrested at his own birthday party, which doubled as a listening event for his compilation release “Slim Language,” after the Los Angeles Police Department found a firearm in his car. LAPD booking documents showed the rapper was arrested just before midnight and held until the early hours of the morning with bail listed at $35,000.
Young Thug was previously arrested in September 2017 on gun and drug charges following a traffic stop near Atlanta.
With his squeaky high-pitched rap vocals, Young Thug became best known for his hits including “Stoner” and “Best Friend.” In a hyper-masculine hip-hop scene, Thug refused to play by traditional gender rules. He wore a dress on the cover of his 2016 mixtape “Jeffery” and said there’s no such thing as gender as part of a Calvin Klein campaign.
Young Thug’s record label is called YSL Records or Young Stoner Life Records. The label refers to its artists as part of the “Slime Family,” and a compilation album called “Slime Language 2” hit No. 1 on the charts in April 2021.
Contributing: Charles Trepany and Maeve McDermott, USA TODAY; Kate Brumback, Sudhin Thanawala, and Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press