This post was originally published on Atlanta Voice

By Itoro Umontuen

There were 26 people arrested in connection to gang-related activity in metro Atlanta; many incidents are connected to well-known celebrities in the city, according to the Fulton District Attorney on Monday. 

Fulton County DA Fani Willis, announced that her office will bring RICO charges against the “Drug Rich Gang.” 

The gang has been implicated in burglaries and home invasions that involve the following celebrities: Calvin Ridley, wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, Brad Guzan, goalkeeper for Atlanta United, Marlo Hampton, reality star on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, GRAMMY-award winning singer Mariah Carey, and Brittni Mealy, a social media star who has a child with rapper Future.

“I will not negotiate with gang members,” Willis said in a Monday afternoon press conference. “We’re going to find you and send you to prison and I’m not apologizing for that.”

Willis later said of the growing questions surrounding the usage of rap lyrics in the prosecution of violent crimes, “I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m going use it.”

The 200-page indictment details incidents started in 2018 involving suspected Drug Rich Gang members. Several face RICO charges. Willis says it’s done to speed up the justice process. 

Willis said members of the Drug Rich Gang utilize prescription bottles and money symbols in jewelry and tattoos. She added that the gang is a hybrid organization, including Gangster Disciples (GDs) and Bloods.

They primarily operate in DeKalb County, according to the office. The indictment lists crimes going back to 2018, and the gang itself has been documented by the office since 2016.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970 seeks to strengthen the legal tools in evidence gathering by establishing new penal prohibitions and providing enhanced sanctions and new remedies for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime.

Willis said utilizing the RICO act will give the assembled jury the tools to tell the entire story and in the hopes of securing a conviction. Willis said she has worked with the Atlanta Police Department advising the police force on the benefits of using the RICO act. 

“RICO is a tool that allows a prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to tell the whole story,” Willis said. “And so we use it as a tool so that they can have all the information they need to make a wise decision. So it’s a tool I continue to use.”

During the nearly 20-minute press conference, Willis advised everyone to be cautious regarding what they post on social media. In the case of Marlo Hampton, the thieves went into her closets looking for high-value items that were posted on various social media platforms.

“The victims, they do not discriminate,” Willis explained. “But what they did do is target people who show their wealth on social media. So I do have a message for the public, where it is kind of fun to put your things on social media and show off. Unfortunately, these gangs are becoming more savvy, more sophisticated in the way that they targeted you. And this is a way that we know that they targeted these individuals.”

Willis has one clear message for individuals, including up-and-coming rappers, who are committing crimes, or reference the crimes that were committed inside Fulton County.

“We have a message: get out of this county or expect to start seeing sentences that go life plus because I am not going to negotiate with gang members. I am not going to allow pleas. We are going to find you. We are going to convict you, and we’re going to send you to prison for the rest of your days. And I’m not apologizing for that.”

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