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Atlanta rapper Young Thug appears in court, dozens face gang-related charges

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Atlanta rapper Young Thug faced a Fulton County Judge today after being arrested Monday following a 56-count criminal indictment. He did not get bond as the courts wait on a higher judge to hear the case.

ORIGINAL STORY: Atlanta rappers Young Thug, Gunna indicted on RICO, gang-related charges

Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, is indicted for being a part of the street gang YSL and also for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO, according to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. The indictment says Williams co-founded the street gang in 2012. He also started a record label under the same name. Prosecutors have used social media as a tool to connect some of the moving parts in the alleged gang activities from murder to drugs.

Willis says several of the YSL gang members worked together to kill rival gang member Donavan Thomas in 2015. The indictment says Young Thug went on social media and made videos about Thomas’ murder a couple of weeks after Thomas was killed. A rental car used in the killing was traced back to some of the YSL associates.

“Very shortly after becoming the DA, I sat down with Mr. Thomas’ mother and I made her a promise that her son was as valuable as any other person in our community and I would put resources on this case and do everything I could to make sure her son had justice,” Willis said Tuesday afternoon at a press conference.

The indictment alleges Young Thug and the leader of the “Sex Money Murder” gang had conversations stating that “sacrifices must be made and soldiers must fall in order for the war to be won.”

Willis says gangs are connected to much of the city’s crime problems.

“My number one focus is targeting gangs,” Willis announced. “They are using conservatively 75% to 80% of all of the violent crime that we are seeing in our community, so they have to be rooted out of our community.”

The indictment outlines that alleged YSL gang members have several attempted murder charges from shootings, and charges from armed robberies, illicit drug sales, and that the young men talked about much of it on social media. The indictment showed pictures of alleged YSL gang members and associates holding weapons and signs to signal the ‘YSL’ letters. Some had the letters tattooed on them; one man had “YSL” tattooed on his forehead.

Willis says 3 of the alleged YSL members were already in Fulton County Jail including Christian Eppinger who was arrested earlier this year for shooting an Atlanta officer several times during an arrest attempt.

Atlanta rapper Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, is also named in the indictment but had not been arrested Tuesday afternoon. Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat says there are plans being made right now to have him arrested.

CBS46 asked Sheriff Patrick Labat how he will keep everyone safe with so many known gang members and associates being brought into the jail. Some YSL members are accused of planning an alleged attempted hit, approved by Young Thug, on rapper YFN Lucci, who is also in the Fulton County Jail with other gang members.

“As to safety and so many people being brought in, we are housing them accordingly including other facilities,” Labat told CBS46.

Willis says t10 of the men on the indictment had already been arrested and three were arrested by Monday night. She says more arrests are coming Tuesday and through the next week focused on the 28 people listed in the YSL indictment.

“It does not matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is, if you come to Fulton County, Georgia and you commit crimes-- and certainly if those crimes are in furtherance of a street gang --you are going to become a target and a focus of this district attorney’s office,” Willis said.