Hernandez was indicted over a year ago on racketeering and firearms charges along with five other men, all of whom were named as members of the violent gang alleged to be operating a drug-trafficking enterprise. Hernandez cut a deal with the government and took the stand last week as federal prosecutors’ star witness against two former associates, Aljermiah Mack and Anthony Ellison, described by the U.S. attorney’s office as high-ranking gang members.
Hernandez offered a rare look inside the inner workings of a notoriously dangerous and murderous street gang, which he allegedly joined to advance his budding music career, according to the New York Times. As his stardom brought in cash, Hernandez explained from the witness stand, the Nine Treys offered up street cred.
But any amity Hernandez built up with the gang all but collapsed after three days detailing robberies, assaults and drug crimes for a federal jury.
The New York Times reported that the Instagram celebrity and self-described troll listed what he said was the Nine Treys hierarchy and claimed several prominent entertainment industry names were gang members, including Harlem rapper Jim Jones and Bronx-based Cardi B, in his testimony.
The testimony shocked music artists and members of his former crew, provoking many to denounce his cooperation with law enforcement.
Vince Staples asked his 1.1 million followers: “Did 69 tell on you?
And in a now-deleted tweet, Cardi B corrected Hernandez, who had apparently aligned her with the Nine Treys, which she wrote was the wrong gang set.
Hernandez also recounted a day in July when Ellison allegedly kidnapped the rapper after an internal falling out over who would control his career.
“I knew I was going to become a target,” Hernandez said in court. “I knew they were going to try and hurt me.”
Hernandez renounced his Nine Treys affiliation in November. Soon afterward, the FBI approached him with a warning: Agents had learned about a planned retaliation from a wiretap. Authorities offered Hernandez round-the-clock surveillance, which he refused.
Days later, a dozen Nine Trey members, including Hernandez, were arrested in the racketeering roundup. Hernandez subsequently agreed to accept help from and cooperate with law enforcement.
Hernandez’s future — as a rapper and otherwise — looks bleak, uncertain and unsafe.
For the time being, Hernandez remains incarcerated; he pleaded guilty to a slew of charges in January, including racketeering, and he faces a minimum of 47 years in prison, though prosecutors promised to request a reduced sentence for his testimony against Mack and Ellison. Prosecutors have indicated he could enter the witness protection program after his release.
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