ATLANTA – Rap star Young Thug, one of the most influential artists to appear on the famously prolific hip-hop scene of Atlanta, was arrested Monday on suspicion of involvement in a gang and conspiracy to violate Georgia’s criminal racketeering law. The rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, is charged in a general grand indictment that identified him and 27 other people as members of the same criminal street gang, accusing some of them of violent crimes, including murder and attempted armed robbery.
Mr. Williams has reshaped the rap world through his career of more than a decade and inspired a host of emulators as he earned three No. 1 albums on the Billboard charts and collaborated with stars around the world of rap and beyond. His arrest comes as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – a Democrat best known for investigating whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies committed election fraud in Georgia – has vowed to crack down on street gangs in Atlanta, a city spinning from violence crime.
The arrest of Mr Williams at his home in the well-to-do Buckhead district was confirmed Monday night by Jeff DiSantis, a spokeswoman for Ms Willis’ office, who said several other people named in the indictment had also been arrested.
The indictment alleges that Mr. Williams is the founder of Young Slime Life, a criminal street gang founded in Atlanta in 2012 and linked to the national gang Bloods. Mr. Williams ’successful record label is called YSL Records or Young Stoner Life Records; the record label names its performers as part of “Slime Family,” and a compilation album called “Slime Language 2” is a No. 1 hit on the charts in April 2021.
All 28 people named in the indictment are charged with conspiracy to violate the State Law on Organizations Under the Influence of Racketeers or RICO, which is modeled on the federal law best known against members of organized crime. In 2014, Ms. Willis helped lead a controversial prosecution of a group in which Atlanta public school teachers were accused of cheating on standardized tests. She also pointed to the possibility that Mr Trump and some of his allies may have violated RICO state law in their alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.