Atlanta natives Young Thug and Gunna were arrested back in May of 2022 along with 26 other members of Young Slime Life (YSL) for conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, while some others have additional charges.
Young Thug, whose real name is Jefferey Lamar Williams, is facing criminal street gang charges in addition to his conspiracy to violate the RICO Act. Additional charges were brought upon him in August after authorities discovered illegal weapons and drugs in his Buckhead home.
Sergio Kitchens, also known as Gunna, was charged with a singular count of conspiring to violate the RICO Act.
Prosecutors described YSL as a “criminal street gang” in association with the national Bloods gang. Since its founding in 2012, prosecutors believe members of YSL are responsible for a multitude of violent crimes including but not limited to murder, robbery, drugs and much more.
The 88-page indictment also alleges that Antonio Sumlin and Christian Eppinger, two of Young Thug’s associates, attempted to murder rapper YFN Lucci while he was incarcerated at a Fulton County jail.
The two rappers, Young Thug and YFN Lucci have had a longstanding beef with one another since 2017.
District Attorney Fani Willis made this statement in a press conference on May 10: “My number one focus is targeting gangs and there is a reason for that. They are committing conservatively 75-80% of all of the violent crimes that we are seeing within our community and so they have to be rooted out of our community. I said just a week or two ago, it does not matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is; if you come to Fulton County, GA and you commit crimes, and certainly if those crimes are in furtherance of a street gang, that you are going to become a target and a focus of this district attorney’s office and we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Fast forward to December, Gunna pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act by taking an Alford plea. An Alford plea which is also referred to as the “best interest plea,” is when a defendant pleads guilty while also maintaining their innocence. He was sentenced to five years with one year being commuted to time served and the other four being suspended. He is also required to complete 500 hours of community service.
Gunna released a statement shortly after news broke about his plea deal, “I have chosen to end my own RICO case with an Alford plea and end my personal ordeal by publicly acknowledging my association with YSL. An Alford plea in my case is the entry of a guilty plea to the one charge against me, which is in my best interest, while at the same time maintaining my innocence toward the same charge.”
Although he pleaded guilty, Gunna wanted to make it known that he is not cooperating with any authorities regarding any other cases. “While I have agreed to always be truthful, I want to make it perfectly clear that I have NOT made any statements, have NOT been interviewed, have NOT cooperated, have NOT agreed to testify or be a witness for or against any party in the case and have absolutely NO intention of being involved in the trial process in any way,” he said in a statement.
However, footage of him admitting that YSL is a gang and has committed violent crimes in furtherance of the gang leaked shortly after his release.
In addition to Gunna, eight other defendants have taken plea deals in this case.
Walter Murphy, also known as DK, and Trontavious Stephens also known as Tick who are both co-founders of YSL along with Young Thug, took plea deals.
Murphy, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act was sentenced to 10 years, one year being commuted to time served and the rest spent on probation.
Antonio Sledge, Antonio Sumlin, Wunnie Lee, Lil Duke and Unfoonk have all accepted plea deals.
Derontae Bebee and Tenquarius Mender both denied plea deals and are among 14 others awaiting trial.
January 9 marked the start of Young Thug’s trial and it is expected to last about six to nine months according to NBC News.
Young Thug and his lawyer, Bryan Steel maintain his innocence.
“Mr. Williams came from an incredibly horrible upbringing, and he has conducted himself throughout his life in a way that is just to marvel at,” he shared, “He’s committed no crime whatsoever.”
Young Thug, along with others, continues to argue that YSL is nothing but a collective of rappers with similar interests.