Young Thug arrested in Atlanta, named in gang indictment

Grammy winner accused of renting car used in deadly drive-by shooting, among other alleged crimes

Grammy Award-winning rapper Young Thug was arrested Monday at his Atlanta home after being named in a sweeping indictment centered on Young Slime Life, which prosecutors say is a criminal street gang co-founded by the artist.

Jeffery Lamar Williams, 30, known professionally as Young Thug, was booked into the Fulton County Jail following his arrest, according to jail records. He is charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, related to various activities over the course of a decade, and participation in criminal street gang activity.

The two charges were brought Monday as part of a 56-count state indictment that names 28 alleged associates of Young Slime Life, including fellow rapper Gunna, whose legal name is Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, and Christian Eppinger, who is accused of seriously wounding an Atlanta police officer in a February shooting.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis hinted at a RICO indictment last month, when Eppinger, an alleged gang member also known as Bhris, was granted bond. That decision drew public ire and harsh criticism by Willis, who said the case was indicative of problems with the bond process in Fulton County.

A judge later raised Eppinger’s bond from $400,000 to $2 million, a mostly symbolic decision as Eppinger was also being held in a probation revocation case. Late last month, Willis said she and her office were taking time to collect and review all evidence against Eppinger, promising “an indictment that is complete and holds him and others responsible for all of their actions.”

Williams was taken into custody Monday during an Atlanta police raid at his home in Buckhead, according to Channel 2 Action News. A police spokeswoman directed further inquiries to the district attorney’s office, which has not provided further comment on the criminal indictment.

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Rapper Young Thug arrested at Buckhead home, faces several changes

The document accuses Williams of engaging in racketeering activity between January 2013 and May 2022. In addition to the crimes alleged in the indictment, prosecutors said Williams and his co-defendants promoted and furthered the interests of Young Slime Life, or YSL, in social media and through music.

The organization, which bears the same name as Williams’ record label, got its start in 2012 in the Cleveland Avenue area and allegedly claims affiliation with the national Bloods street gang.

Specific allegations against Williams include theft by receiving a stolen firearm in 2013, threatening to kill an employee of Perimeter Mall when he was banned from the premises in 2015 and possession of methamphetamine, hydrocodone and marijuana in 2017.

In the most serious instance of alleged racketeering, prosecutors have accused Williams of renting an Infiniti Q50 sedan that was used in a 2015 deadly drive-by shooting that killed alleged rival gang member Donovan Thomas Jr. In a video posted to social media 16 days after the shooting, Williams said others who “tell the God’s honest truth” in the courtroom “need to get (expletive) killed bro, from me and YSL,” according to the indictment.

A separate charge of participating in criminal street gang activity details activities between May 2018 and May 2022. That charge, which is the final count in the lengthy indictment, accuses Williams alone of occupying a leadership position in YSL and overseeing a long list of alleged crimes, including murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, carjacking, drug possession and more.

Monday’s arrest is not Williams’ first encounter with law enforcement in metro Atlanta. In 2017, he was arrested on drug charges in DeKalb County alongside Kitchens and another man, Chris Jones. Kitchens, a well-known rapper in his own right, was an artist on Williams’ Smyrna-based YSL label.

Earlier that year, Williams was featured on Camila Cabello’s hit song “Havana,” the rapper’s first song to rise to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Williams has also been previously arrested in Fulton on drug charges, jail records show.

In the years since his last arrest, Williams’ star has grown as he avoided legal entanglements. In 2019, he won a Grammy Award as a songwriter on “This Is America,” the thought-provoking Childish Gambino track further propelled by an unconventional music video that went viral. Childish Gambino is the stage name of Donald Glover, the multi-faceted actor and rapper known for producing and starring in the TV show “Atlanta.”

Williams has also been featured on two other songs that topped the Billboard charts, first on Travis Scott’s song “Franchise” in 2020 and again the next year on Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy,” which also featured Future, another Atlanta rapper.

Williams’ first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be in attendance.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.