The District Attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, says at least 10 members of the YSL outfit have been taken into custody, including Young Thug, whom she says is a leader of the gang, she labeled a hybrid gang that is wreaking havoc in the Atlanta area.
Willis was speaking at a joint press conference with Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat and Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant to address the 56-count RICO indictment it dropped on Monday, which names rappers Young Thug, Gunna, and 26 other members of Young Slime Life or YSL as defendants.
The indictment says YSL is a criminal enterprise, particularly a street gang responsible for offenses committed that violate the RICO act, murder, armed robbery, and participating in criminal street gang activity.
While addressing journalists, District Attorney Willis said the case had gained attention because of the popularity of defendant Jeffrey Williams known as rapper Young Thug. Thug was arrested on Monday night, and she says that at least ten defendants are in custody up to Tuesday morning.
Gunna‘s attorney has reportedly reached out to the Sheriff (Labat), who said they called him personally on Monday night, and he is expecting arrangements to be made for the rapper to turn himself in.
The D.A, however, warned that no suspect would escape arrest.
“In this business, I’m certain there will be people who won’t volunteer to come into custody and there’s no concern that somebody will escape arrest,” she said as she noted that it might take up to two weeks to get all of the defendants in custody.
The District Attorney, in outlining the circumstances leading to the grand jury indictment, said that the YSL outfit of which the rappers are part has been wreaking havoc in Atlanta between 2012-2022.
“It is our allegation that they operated as a criminal street gang and commenced to do havoc in our community. That havoc includes crimes of violence, crimes of theft, crimes involving drugs, I’ve made no secret about it nor any apology that as the District Attorney of Fulton County, 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 we are witnessing in our community,” She said.
D.A Willis added that her office would be going after every defendant despite their fame or popularity.
“We have to root it out of our community. I said it a week ago, it doesn’t matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is if you come to Fulton County, Georgia 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 the focus of this district attorney’s office. We are going to prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”
The D.A says that her office will be pushing for the maximum sentence under the RICO Act, and many of the defendants looking at life in prison.
She also added that while the 56-count indictment does contain many crimes and a large number of defendants, she says targeting the leaders of the gang was important. The 88-page document released on Monday named Young Thug and two others as founders of the YSL gang.
“It is a significant gang operated here in Atlanta, Georgia and not every member became a defendant within this indictment but certainly a significant amount did and the certainly some of the leadership which is what’s most important. We’re not going to charge the children that are running out at the direction of leaders and not target leaders.”
Young Thug is named in the indictment as being part of a murder of a man named Donovan Thomas Jr. The indictment says Thug was the one who rented an Infiniti Q50 Sedan in 2014, which was later used in the 2015 murder of Thomas Jr., a rival gang member.
She recalled that Thomas Jr’s death stuck out to her as it led to “violence like Atlanta has never seen”, possibly being reprisal killings. When asked about a connection to the killing of Young Thug’s baby mother weeks ago, she said there was none to the present case involving Young Thug.
Meanwhile, Police Chief Bryant said the RICO charges against the rappers and their co-defendants come following the collaboration of the Atlanta Police department and the D.A’s office as part of their “aggressiveness in going after gang members.”
He said that Young Thug was a “top offender.”
“At the direction of the D.A taking the lead on this yesterday, making sure we were able to get one of our top offenders off of the street. In partnership with them utilizing our tactical teams, we were able to go out to the individual’s location and arrest him without any significant consequences to him or any other party at the house.”
Meanwhile, the indictment also said that Young Thug had a hand in two murder attempts on the life of YFN Lucci, who was violently stabbed at Fulton County jail in February. Police say two YSL members whom they identified as defendants in the indictment had sought Thug’s permission to murder Lucci.
Lucci’s attorney had also sought to use the incident to appeal to authorities to grant him bond out of fear for his life last month.
Meanwhile, concerns about the Fulton County Sheriff Department housing Lucci and the defendants under this RICO indictment were raised to Sheriff Labat, but he said law enforcement prepared adequate arrangements for all of the defendants ahead of arrests.
“We are housing them accordingly to include other facilities, so I encourage everyone to download the Sheriff’s app if you want to know specifically where individuals are and you will be accommodated accordingly,” Labat said.
Young Thug’s attorney says rapper is innocent
In the meantime, Young Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel told NBC News that his client was innocent of the allegations on Tuesday morning.
“Mr. Williams has committed no violation of law, whatsoever. We will fight this case ethically, legally and zealously. Mr. Williams will be cleared,” Steel said.
In a video also shared online by WSB-TV, Steel was also passionate about the upcoming legal battle to free his client.
“I’ll tell you the response to any allegation; Mr. Williams committed no crime whatsoever, and we will fight to my last drop of blood to clear him.”
As for Gunna, who has one count on the indictment stating that he appeared in a video “Fox 5″ wearing paraphernalia proving his affiliation to the YSL gang, and his lyrics are being quoted as part of the prosecution’s case.” We got ten-hundred round choppers,” the indictment quoted him.
Young Thug’s father speak out
Young Thug’s father, Jeffrey Williams Sr., spoke with Channel 2 about his son’s arrest, saying the younger Williams is not a criminal nor a gang leader, but is a business man and musician.
“I’m gonna fight for him to the end,” Thugger’s father said. “I’m his father. That’s what I do.