Young Thug and Gunna Have Been Indicted on Racketeering Charges in a 56-Count RICO Case

Multi-platinum rappers Young Thug (Jeffery Williams) and Gunna (Sergio Kitchens) are reportedly named as defendants in a massive indictment taking place in Georgia’s Fulton County. The news broke late on May 9th, with WSB-TV reporters Michael Seiden and Mark Winne providing the information on Twitter.

Seiden reviewed the 88-page indictment, revealing a number of key details, and also shared a photo of Thug being taken into custody. The prosecution reportedly identifies Thug’s collective and record label YSL (Young Stoner Life) as “a criminal street gang” that “claims affiliation with the national Bloods gang.” According to Seiden, the pair are being charged through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which targets organized crime. Gunna is reportedly looking at “one count of conspiracy to violate” RICO while Thug is facing multiple charges. Per The New York Times, these charges are through the Georgia state RICO law, which is “closely modeled on the federal law” first put into effect in 1970.

Thug, 30, will make his initial public appearance at 11:30 a.m. on May 10, while as of 11:00 p.m. EST on the 9th, Gunna, 28, had not been booked. Gunna, a protege of Thug, reached new commercial heights in 2022 with the release of his No. 1 album DS4Ever and the top 10 single “Pushin P.” Thug topped the charts in October 2021 with his own studio album Punk, and appeared on one of the year’s biggest singles, Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy.”

Claims against Thug include an accusation that he rented a car from Hertz that was “used in the commission of a murder” of a rival gang member in 2015, and that YSL affiliates sought Thug’s approval to attempt to murder Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci. (Thug and Lucci have a longstanding history of animosity.)

“I’ll tell you the response to any allegation; Mr. Williams committed no crime whatsoever and we will fight to my last drop of blood to clear him,” Thug’s attorney Brian Steel told WSB-TV.

In Gunna’s case, Seiden shared that prosecutors cited his appearance in the video for Lil Keed’s “Fox 5,” and specifically the lyric “We got ten hundred-round choppers,” as well as jewelry he wore on screen bearing the “YSL” logo and the acronym “SLATT,” (“Slime Love All The Time”). The use of rap lyrics as evidence as a trial is extremely controversial–Maryland ruled them admissible in 2021–and artists like Jay-Z, Meek Mill, and Big Sean have voiced support for a campaign against such a practice in New York. As journalist Jeff Weiss noted, there is a recent history of prosecutors taking aim at rappers and distorting the meaning of particular slang and song lyrics to make their case. “It’s the 21st century blueprint for prosecution of rappers: call the rap group a gang and pursue Mafia-style indictments,” he wrote.

Both Young Thug and Gunna have prior history of legal trouble–Thug was arrested after threatening to shoot a mall cop in 2015, indicted on drug charges in 2018 and had gun charges dropped in 2019, while Gunna was arrested for possession of a controlled substance during an Arkansas tour date in 2019. According to Seiden, other YSL-connected musicians like Yak Gotti, Slimelife Shawty, and Unfoonk are also named in the indictment.

There are several examples of RICO being invoked in connection with hip-hop. DJ Drama and Don Cannon faced RICO charges in 2007 as part of a raid that targeted their mixtape operation. YFN Lucci was also part of a 2021 RICO indictment.

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