Philly rapper AR-Ab and three of his associates were convicted Tuesday for a number of federal drug trafficking charges, Pennsylvania officials announced.
AR-Ab—legal name Abdul West—is accused of leading a large-scale drug operation under his Original Block Hustlaz (OBH) record label. State prosecutors say AR-Ab and his entourage ran a violent "trafficking network" between March 2017 and June 2018, distributing drugs like crack cocaine, meth, and heroin in and around Philadelphia. AR-Ab is accused of leading the drug ring, as well as ordering acts of murder. He and three of his co-defendants—Jamaal "Bionickhaz" Blanding, Jameel "Meliano" Hickson, and Hans "NoBrakes Bras" Gadson—are each facing life in prison.
"West and his co-defendants, members of the OBH drug organization, pumped huge quantities of deadly drugs into our community while pretending to be legitimate artists and businessmen," United States Attorney William M. McSwain said in a press release. "Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous business, and drug traffickers ultimately deliver violence and destruction to our communities without any regard for the people living there. Our Office is determined to do exactly what we did in this case: investigate and convict these dangerous criminals and put them in prison."
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, prosecutors pointed to AR-Ab's social media activity and songs lyrics to link him to a number of crimes. The feds showed jurors an Instagram post that showed AR-Ab and Blanding in California to allegedly purchase cocaine from their supplier. The posted was reportedly captioned: "I'll make it snow in LA." Prosecutors also highlighted lyrics they believe implicate AR-Ab in the 2017 murder of Robert Johnson, who was allegedly killed by AR-Ab crew member Dontez "Taz" Stewart.
"I’ll have da whole city scared," AR-Ab rapped. "Stand near home/I call Taz and tell him/Bring dat n***a head to me."
Investigators say those lyrics were written in AR-Ab's smartphone just days after Johnson was fatally shot. AR-Ab insists, however, that those lines had nothing to do with the slaying.
AR-Ab was charged in the case in October 2018 along with eight other defendants. Charles "Dark Lo" Salley, a member of the rapper's crew, was arrested last week for allegedly threatening violence against a cooperating witness as well as potential witnesses for the trial.
"... Witness intimidation has no place in the criminal justice system and will be dealt with swiftly and harshly," McSwain continued. "As alleged in a criminal complaint, an associate of OBH attempted to intimidate a witness during the trial and is now behind bars, where he will remain pending trial."
Dark Lo faces a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.