YSL rapper Young Thug faces new charges in Fulton County street gang case

Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, appears before a judge via video link from the Fulton County Jail on May 10, 2022. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Fulton County investigators filed addition charges against Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug and some of his alleged associates in its RICO Act and street gang case.

The founder of Young Stoner Life Records is now accused of illegally possessing multiple firearms, including a modified machine gun, in addition to street gang activity and drug trafficking.

The 30-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, and 27 other people, was indicted along with fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna in May using Georgia’s RICO Act. The 88-page indictment claims they are part of the Young Slime Life, or YSL, a subset of the Bloods street gang. Prosecutors allege those named in the indictment have engaged in violent criminal activity in the city since 2012. 

Young Thug, Martinez Arnold (also known as Duke) and Deamonte Kendrick (also known as Yak Gotti) are accused of possessing and attempting to sell marijuana and cocaine in May 2022. The indictment says they were possessing multiple guns: a GLOCK 357, a FN firearm, a GLOCK 19, a Smith & Wesson M&P and a GLOCK 45 with a "converter switch and extended magazine." The GLOCK 45 modified into a machine gun resulted in another gun possession charge.

The total list of charges against 28 accused is up to 65 counts. The reindictment accused three additional people — Deamonte Kendrick, also known as Yak Gotti; Shannon Stillwell, AKA Shannon Jackson or SB; and Quamarvious Nichols, AKA Qua — of separate gun charges. 


Prosecutors claim Williams is a co-founder of the alleged street gang YSL. The indictment also gives a detailed account of various violent crimes alleged members of YSL are accused of, and documents social media posts and rap lyrics by Williams that reference YSL. 

In June,a judge denied bond and an elaborate house arrest plan. Several factors were taken into consideration including a threat introduced to the court attributed to Williams from 2015 that states "Anybody goes into courtroom and tells the god's honest truth, they'll be f---ing killed." The judge said the validity of that threat would need to be proven in court, but it speaks to his possibly being a danger to the community.

If convicted of a RICO charge, Williams could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Gunna, whose name is Sergio Kitchens, had his bond denied in May.

A judge set his court date for January 2023. 

What is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, was developed to fight organized crime. It was enacted in 1970 after being signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

Federally, RICO was originally was intended to be used to combat the Mafia. It draws from a list of 27 federal crimes and eight state crimes committed repeated over the course of a 10-year period. Those crimes can include fraud, theft, computer crimes, embezzlement, credit scams, investment schemes, human trafficking, illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, and various drug charges.

The Justice Department has used RICO to dismantle multiple crime families and weed out corruption in several city police departments. Prosecutors have also used RICO to try to dismantle several street gangs and helped in prosecuting businesses that break federal law.

Georgia’s RICO statutes are similar to the federal version , but are much broader in that the criminal "enterprise" does not have to be around as long. Georgia is one of only 33 states that has its own RICO statutes. However, in both state and federal laws, a pattern of criminal enterprise has to be established.