ATLANTA — Rap star Young Thug, one of the most influential artists to emerge from Atlanta’s famously fertile hip-hop scene, was arrested Monday on suspicion of gang involvement and conspiracy to violate the Georgia criminal racketeering law. The rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, was charged in a sweeping grand jury indictment that identified him and 27 other people as members of the same criminal street gang and charged some of them with violent crimes including murder and attempted armed robbery.
Williams has reshaped the rap world throughout his decade-plus career and inspired a host of emulators as he earned three No. 1 albums on the Billboard chart and collaborated with stars across the rap world and beyond. His arrest comes as District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County — a Democrat best known for investigating whether former President Donald Trump and his allies committed election fraud in Georgia — has vowed to crack down on street gangs in Atlanta, a city reeling from violent crime.
The arrest of Williams at his house in the well-heeled Buckhead neighborhood was confirmed Monday night by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesperson for Willis’ office, who said that several other people named in the indictment were also arrested.
The indictment alleges that Williams is a founder of Young Slime Life, a criminal street gang founded in Atlanta in 2012 and affiliated with the national Bloods gang. Williams’ successful record label has been variously called YSL Records or Young Stoner Life Records; the label refers to its artists as part of the “Slime Family,” and a compilation album called “Slime Language 2” hit No. 1 on the charts in April 2021.
All 28 people named in the indictment were charged with conspiracy to violate the state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which is closely modeled on the federal law that has most famously been used against organized crime members. In 2014, Willis helped lead a controversial rackeering prosecution of a group in which Atlanta public-school teachers were accused of cheating on standardized tests. She has also raised the possibility that Trump and some of his allies may have violated state RICO law in their alleged efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.