Young Thug’s RICO Trial Begins in Georgia

On May 9, 2022, Young Thug was arrested on Georgia state charges of participation in street gang activity and conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Today (November 27), his trial finally begins after several delays. Opening statements from the prosecution and defense will address his alleged involvement in an Atlanta street gang responsible for murders, carjackings, and other crimes over the span of a decade. If a jury finds the rapper born Jeffery Lamar Williams guilty, he could face years—possibly decades—in prison.

The government claims that YSL—Young Thug’s rap collective and label, also known as Young Stoner Life—is a criminal gang called Young Slime Life with ties to the national Bloods organization. The 56-count gang indictment against Young Thug and 27 other alleged members of YSL claims that they’re responsible for murder, assault, robbery, theft, illegal gun possession, and illegal drug possession and sales along the Cleveland Avenue area since 2012. Prosecutors also claim that Young Thug was the gang leader, dubbed “King Slime,” who popularized YSL by “referring to it in his songs.” The judge has allowed prosecutors to submit multiple song lyrics as evidence, a controversial method that analysts often discredit when rap is put on trial. Thug’s lawyer, Brian Steel, says his client has “committed no crime whatsoever.”

Gunna was arrested for similar charges the same day as Young Thug. Last December, Gunna was released from jail after pleading guilty. Meanwhile, Young Thug has maintained his innocence and remained incarcerated. He was denied bond last summer due to being dubbed a “danger to the community.” Following the seven-hour-long bond hearing in Atlanta, Judge Ural D. Glanville further explained: “They have taken proffers from other gang members—people who are in this particular indictment and others who are not in this indictment—that he is the leader of the gang, he is dangerous, and if he crosses them he’ll kill them or their families.”

Despite his legal situation, Young Thug has stayed busy working on new music. His latest album, Business Is Business, came out back in June. Since then, he has released songs including a version of “Money” with Juice WRLD and Nicki Minaj, and the single “From a Man,” part of a dual release with his partner, Mariah the Scientist.

Revisit “What Young Thug and Gunna’s Indictment Means for Rap Music on Trial.”