Young Thug, the hugely influential rap artist from the exploding Atlanta hip-hop scene, was arrested as part of a sweeping grand jury indictment that netted 28 people for alleged street-gang activity including racketeering, attempted armed robbery and murder.
The rapper, born Jeffery Lamar Williams, was arrested in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood on Monday night, as The New York Times first reported. Several others named in the indictment were arrested around the same time.
Williams is accused of founding the Atlanta criminal street gang Young Slime Life in 2012 in association with the Bloods gang. According to arrest records and charging documents obtained by TheWrap, he faces one charge each of conspiracy racketeering and criminal street-gang activity.
Brian Steel, a lawyer representing Williams, told TheWrap that “Mr. Williams has committed no violation of law, whatsoever.”
“We will fight this case ethically, legally and zealously,” Steel said. “Mr. Williams will be cleared.”
All 28 people in the indictment are accused of violating a broad Georgia racketeering law that mirrors federal anti-organized crime legislation. State prosecutors have used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for a variety of purposes, including busting public-school teachers cheating on standardized tests.
Williams is accused of several illegal acts in the indictment, but not charged with them specifically – rather, they contribute to the umbrella charge of furthering the gang’s conspiracy, the Times reported. They include threatening to kill a man, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and renting a luxury car used in the murder of a rival gang member in 2015.
Five men have been separately charged in that murder, including a rapper on Williams’ label.
Other people in the 88-page indictment obtained by TheWrap are accused of a wide variety of illegal acts including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, theft by deception, drug possession, attempted armed robbery, and more. The document includes several social-media posts by the rapper and his associates, and quotes lyrics from record-label artists, to corroborate conspiracy charges.
Williams, 30, has had a huge impact on hip-hop and trap music. Singles “Stoner” and “Danny Glover” gained him mainstream success in 2014, and in 2019 he won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year for his contribution to “This is America.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.