Young Thug and Gunna are among the 28 people being charged for being associated with the Young Slime Life gang, most commonly referred to as YSL. They were named in a 56-count grand jury indictment in Georgia, according to ABC News.
Alleged members of YSL are being charged for conspiring to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act (RICO), according to documents acquired by the news outlet.
Introduced in 1970, the RICO act was passed to crack down on organized crime in the United States. It was originally created to prosecute individuals associated with the Mafia during the war on drugs. Recently, the law has been criticized for negatively affecting individuals who are in close proximity to members of organized crime.
Young Thug – whose birth name is Jeffrey Lamar Williams – is being charged for allegedly conspiring to violate the RICO act and participating in street gang activity. The rapper is being accused of renting a car that was used in the 2015 murder of Donovan Thomas, a drive-by shooting that wounded two other people, reported Complex.
“Mr. Williams has committed no violation of law, whatsoever. We will fight this case ethically, legally and zealously. Mr. Williams will be cleared,” Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel told ABC News. The rapper is currently in custody at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta and a court hearing will be set in the near future, according to Steel.
Authorities say Young Thug founded YSL in late 2012 and that the record label is affiliated with the Bloods gang, reported ABC News. The alleged conspiracy was about “preserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise through acts of racketeering activity including murder, assault and threats of violence,” according to the indictment.
Over a dozen artists are signed to the YSL label, including Gunna. The rapper – whose birth name is Sergio Giavanni Kitchens – has been charged with one count of conspiring to violate RICO. It remains unclear if he’s been arrested.
The indictment also references several of Young Thug and Gunna’s lyrics and music videos that include mentions or symbols of YSL, according to ABC News. Citing the lyrics and imagery used by hip-hop artists has been criticized by freedom of speech advocates and artists in the past.
Recently, a law titled “Rap Music on Trial” was introduced in the New York Senate to limit the use of an artist’s creative expression as evidence. Artists like Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Big Sean and Fat Joe all wrote a letter last January to express their support of the legislation, according to the news outlet.