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Rappers Young Thug, Gunna arrested on gang-related charges

Young Thug performs in 2018 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland. The rapper was arrested in Atlanta on May 9. (Kyle Gustafson for The Washington Post)

Influential Atlanta rap artist Young Thug was arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy and street-gang activity, according to court records.

Jeffery Lamar Williams, 30, who performs under the name Young Thug, is being held in Georgia’s Fulton County Jail, records show. Williams is accused of conspiracy in 2013 under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law designed to combat organized crime, and of participating in criminal gang activity in 2018, an indictment filed Monday states. Williams received additional felony charges Wednesday after authorities discovered drugs and firearms while searching his home.

Gunna, a high-profile Atlanta rapper whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, was also charged in the indictment with conspiracy to violate the RICO Act. Kitchens, 28, surrendered to Fulton County authorities early Wednesday and remains in county jail.

Kitchens and Williams are among 28 defendants named in the 88-page indictment, which alleges that Williams helped found a Bloods-affiliated gang, “Young Slime Life,” or YSL.

Brian Steel, Williams’s lawyer, said his client did not commit any crimes. “I’ll tell you 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,” Steel told the local television station WSB-TV. The attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post early Tuesday.

On Monday, Williams was arrested at a house in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, the New York Times reported.

Performing as Young Thug, Williams has been hailed as one of the most influential hop-hop artists to emerge in the past two decades. In 2019, Williams won song of the year at the Grammys for co-writing “This Is America” with Donald Glover, known as Childish Gambino, and Ludwig Göransson. That year, Post music critic Chris Richards reiterated his stance that Williams was “the greatest rapper of our time," and referred to the Grammy-nominated Kitchens as one of his “apostles.” Williams has been featured in several songs that have topped the Billboard Hot 100, and his label, Young Stoner Life, or YSL, has produced numerous albums.

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In 2018, Williams was indicted on drug charges with Kitchens, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Williams pleaded not guilty, and the case is ongoing, according to court records.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) said at a news conference held Tuesday that her "No. 1 focus is targeting gangs,” and estimated that gang activity contributes to “75 to 80 percent of all the violent crime that we are seeing within our community.” The prosecutor, who also made headlines for requesting that a special grand jury investigate whether President Donald Trump sought to overturn Georgia’s election results, confirmed that her team may use Williams’s lyrics as evidence against him in the case.