On Monday, May 9, Young Thug was taken into custody after his home was raided by law officials. Police took him to the Fulton County Jail, where he was charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Young Thug is among the individuals listed in a 56-count indictment that was filed on May 9. The indictment also names other Young Stoner Life Records rappers, including Gunna. The charges include murder, armed robbery, and possession of controlled substances and weapons.
On May 10, a press conference was held in Fulton County, in which members of the District Attorney’s office and Fulton County sheriff’s department listed the charges against Young Thug, Gunna, and associates. “It does not matter what your notoriety is or what your fame is, if you come to Fulton County Georgia, you commit crimes, and certainly if those crimes are in furtherance of a street gang, that 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,” said District Attorney Fani Willis.
RICO charges are very serious, and details are still unfolding. After reading the 88-page indictment, referencing news reports, and watching the press conferences, we put together this breakdown of everything we know about the Young Thug and Gunna indictment so far.
What happened on May 9?
There have been 28 people named in the 56-count indictment. Among the names of alleged “Young Slime Life” members are Young Thug, born Jeffery Lamar Williams, and Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Giavanni Kitchens. The indictment also names several rappers including YSL Duke (Martinez Arnold), Yak Gotti (Deamonte Kendrick), and Unfoonk (Quantavious Grier).
The 56 total charges include conspiracy to violate RICO, murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm, theft, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, and participation in street gang activity. The conspiracy charge stems from alleged incidents that occured between January 24, 2013 and May 8, 2022. “It is our allegation that they operated as a criminal street gang and commits to do havoc in our community,” DA Willis said during a press conference. “That havoc includes crimes of violence, crimes of thefts, crimes involving drugs.”
Young Thug is facing two charges: conspiracy to violate the RICO act and participation in criminal street gang activity. He was named in connection to several criminal acts throughout the 56-count indictment. One of his more serious offenses allegedly occurred on January 7, 2015. Young Thug allegedly rented a car that was used in the commission of the murder of Donovan Thomas JR., a rival gang member. DA Willis stated that the aftermath of Thomas’ death “created violence like Atlanta has never seen.” According to WSBTV, prosecutors are also claiming that Christian Eppinger and Antonio Sumlin asked Thug for permission to make an alleged second attempt on YFN Lucci’s life, who was recently stabbed while at Fulton County Jail in February.
Gunna has been charged with one count of conspiring to violate RICO. He was listed in at least five counts of the RICO indictment, including being accused of committing the felony offenses of possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, and hydrocodone with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Gunna was also named in the counts for theft by receiving stolen property. The state is primarily attempting to tie him to the Young Slime Life street gang by listing evidence of him wearing YSL chains and sharing content such as photos and videos on social media that promoted YSL. Gunna has not been arrested at the time of publishing, but Fulton County’s Sheriff Patrick Labat says arrangements are being made for him to be detained.
In January 2015, 26-year-old Donovan “Big Nut” Thomas Jr., a YFN affiliate who YFN Lucci named his 2017 Long Live Nut project after, was shot and killed outside of a barbershop in Atlanta. Young Thug is accused of renting the car that was used in the murder. In a press conference, DA Fani Willis claimed Thomas Jr’s death marked the beginning of “violence like Atlanta has never seen.” Willis also noted that the situation is personal to her and she made a promise directly to Thomas Jr.’s mother after his death: “It was a commitment I made from the first day I walked into this office. Very shortly after me becoming the DA, I sat down with Mr. Thomas’ mother and I made her a promise that her son was as valuable as any other person within our community, and that I would put resources on this case, and that I would do everything that I could to make sure that her son had justice. And yesterday was a proud day for me.”
The RICO act has been around since 1970, it’s been used to combat organized crime in the United States. Essentially, it’s a way for law enforcement to bring charges against gangs and other criminal organizations. In RICO cases, individuals can be punished for crimes related to the larger criminal organization. Another recent high-profile RICO case involved Tekashi 6ix9ine and the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.
The RICO charge against YSL is listed as count 1 in the indictment, and it’s broken into three parts: “The Conspiracy,” “The Enterprise,” and “Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy.”
In “Part 1: The Conspiracy,” the indictment claims the associates listed were a part of an enterprise known as Young Slime Life (“YSL”). The objectives of the conspiracy were obtaining money, weapons and property; obtaining law enforcement and court proceedings information through witness intimidations; and preserving, protecting, and enhancing the reputation and power of the “enterprise.”
In “Part 2” of the RICO charge, the enterprise is broken down in great detail. According to records, Young Slime Life is a street gang that was founded by Young Thug, DK (Walter Murphy), and Tick (Trontavious Stephens) in late 2012 in the Cleveland Avenue of Atlanta, Georgia. YSL claims affiliation with the national Bloods gang, and associates use identifiers including colors, clothing tattoos, and hand signals.
“Part 3” includes a detailed list of 182 conspiracy charges that occurred between January 25, 2012 and April 28, 2022. Young Thug and Gunna are each named several times throughout this list.
In a statement to a news reporter, Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel said, “The response to any allegation is Mr. Williams committed no crime whatsoever and we will fight to my last drop of blood to clear him.”
During a press conference on May 10, Fulton County DA Fani Willis stated that the people indicted in this case could be facing life imprisonment. “There are definitely many people that are looking at life under this indictment,” she said. “These are serious times, they are serious allegations, and it is my opinion that violence in our community deserves maximum penalties.”
Rap lyrics and music videos from Young Thug, Gunna, and other artists appear throughout “Part 3” of the indictment. During the May 10 press conference, DA Willis spoke on the use of rap lyrics and social media, saying, “Social media is a wonderful tool for prosecutors in every indictment we bring nowadays.” Speaking on rap lyrics specifically, she added, “I believe in the first amendment [...] however, it does not protect people from prosecutors [who are] using it as evidence, if it is such.”
As an example of the lyrics they’re citing, on April 20, 2014, Young Thug released a song called “Eww,” and several lyrics from the song are named in the indictment. Lyrics include, “Red just like Elmo but I never fuckin giggle,” “YSL won’t fold, pick his ass off from the balcony,” “YSL, wipe a nigga nose,” “I’ma fuck for the cash then she getting robbed by Tick,” “In a Bentley on West Lee getting trailed by sniper,” and “All I ever wanted was the money, put your hands in the air if you dare, any motherfucker to step over here, F&N put em in a wheelchair.” The indictment lists the final lyric as “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
Music videos were also cited in the indictment. In several videos featuring Young Thug, Gunna, and other YSL associates, the indictment focuses on the artists flashing alleged gang signs and jewelry that boasted their YSL affiliation.
An example of the social media posts being used by the state is a photo of a defendant named Miles Farley, who is wearing clothing that says “slime” and “is you slime enough.” The indictment describes this as “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
The YSL that is named in the indictment stands for Young Slime Life. It is not associated with the high fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent. Despite having the same acronym, it is important to note that Thug’s label Young Stoner Life Records is also not the YSL that is named in this indictment. Young Stoner Life is an imprint of 300 Entertainment. Of course, since the acronym is the same, it has led to some confusion about which “YSL” is being referred to at certain points in the indictment. Because of this confusion, there could end up being potential situations where the state thinks artists are repping the YSL street gang, when they’re actually just aligning themselves with YSL the label.
There’s been some speculation whether the indictment has anything to do with the murder of LaKevia Jackson, the mother of Young Thug’s son. Jackson, 31, was reportedly shot and killed at a bowling alley in Atlanta on March 17, 2022. District Attorney Willis stated, “I don’t believe [there is] any” connection between Thug’s alleged gang activity and Jackon’s killing. In addition to the murder of LaKevia Jackson, there have been a number of violent incidents that have occurred in Atlanta this year. In March 2022, a man was found shot to death in a car at an underpass, and there was speculation that the man’s death was directly connected to Jackson’s. Young Thug has also alluded to the fact that he’s been dealing with heavy personal matters lately. On April 19, 2022, he announced a new album on Instagram, saying, “These past few weeks gave me so much to talk bout.”
Peewee Roscoe, whose real name is Jimmy Winfrey, was named in the indictment for aggravated assault, related to the infamous shooting involving Lil Wayne’s tour bus in 2015. This was a high-profile case in which Young Thug and Birdman, who were feuding with Wayne at the time, were listed as co-conspirators in the original indictment. Thug and Birdman were never charged, but Peewee Roscoe was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was ultimately released in 2020.
This indictment comes at a time when people are pushing back against song lyrics being used as evidence in court. In January 2022, several prominent musicians, including Jay-Z, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, and Big Sean, proposed the “Rap Music on Trial” bill, which aims to stop prosecutors from using rap lyrics as evidence for alleged crimes. Rap fans have also pointed out the significance of the RICO law, which was originally created in the 1970s to take down the Mafia and other large gangs, but has since been used to arrest hip-hop artists and groups. DA Willis made it clear in her press conference that she won’t shy away from bringing RICO charges against other high-profile figures in Atlanta, which has fueled speculation that other hip-hop artists in the area could be next.
Young Thug was initially scheduled to appear in a magistrate court on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., according to the Fulton County Sheriff spokesperson Tracy Flanagan. Due to the severity of the indictment, however, Fulton County officials say he will appear before a superior court judge. Young Thug will remain in custody for the time being. The date and time have not been confirmed as of publishing.