Prosecutors in the case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his YSL associates are concerned for the safety of witnesses who could testify.
According to court documents, a motion was granted by Judge Ural Glanville, that forces defense lawyers to withhold witnesses’ contact information from their clients, after prosecutors cited, “numerous threats to kill or harm witnesses.”
Although defense lawyers denied any claims of witness intimidation, prosecutors allege witnesses have said: “that they fear not only for their own lives but for their families’ lives should they testify.”
District Attorney Fani T. Willis, also filed a motion with the court Tuesday stating that YSL had, “a history of intimidating witnesses.” She also described an incident from the indictment in which a YSL member was accused of attempting to murder two Atlanta police officers.
On May 9, Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, and 28 members of his YSL record label, including popular rapper Gunna, were arrested and charged with offenses under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as participation in street gang activity.
The charges ranged from murder and attempted armed robbery, to conspiracy to violate the state RICO Act.
Prosecutors labeled YSL, the rapper’s music label, a criminal gang.
Authorities also claim Young Thug rented a car later used to commission a murder several years ago. The rapper and his associates were denied bond and are in custody in a jail outside of Atlanta. Young Thug continues to claim his innocence.
Conspiracy counts can be considered more accessible to prove when a case can’t be made on direct charges themselves. In other words, prosecutors can throw the kitchen sink and have a lower burden of proof to make something stick.
Most of our favorite rappers rep some gang or another, and some believe it’s even a right of passage. Many openly flaunt their affiliations and their music is often laced with gang-related wordplay and or activities. Many rappers come from worlds where gangs are the only thing they know, so it makes sense for it to be in the music. But rapping about ‘the life’ has left nothing but space and opportunity for the FEDS to scream RICO!
In Dec 2014, rapper Bobby Shmurda and 13 GS9 members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate the RICO Act. The crew faced 101 charges, including narcotics sales, murder, assault, and weapons possession. In 2016, Shmurda and four other co-defendants took plea deals and were sentenced to seven years in prison. Shmurda was released from prison in Feb 2021.
In 2019, Tekashi69 was arrested and charged in a RICO case for his affiliation with gang associates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. 69 famously ‘snitched’ on other members of the group and was only sentenced to two years in prison.
In May 2021, rapper YFN Lucci and eleven other associates were also charged in a RICO case. According to the AP, charges include racketeering, aggravated assault, murder, gun, armed robbery, property damage, theft, and other gang-related charges.