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Hand-to-hand drug deal occurs during jury selection of RICO trial: Report

Composite screenshot of WSB-TV Twitter video

Two of 14 defendants standing trial in a RICO case regarding alleged gang activity in Atlanta, Georgia, have reportedly made the prosecution's case against them a bit stronger. According to reports, the two conducted a hand-to-hand drug deal in open court during jury selection proceedings this week.

On Wednesday, defendant Jeffrey Williams, 31, better known as the rapper Young Thug, was in the Fulton County Courthouse sitting next to his attorney when fellow defendant Kahlieff Adams stood up in the back of the courtroom and began walking toward the front. Before he turned toward a door, which some have indicated is a restroom, Adams reached out and grasped Williams' right hand, and Williams immediately placed his hand underneath the table in front of him.

Deputies then converged on Williams, suggesting that they sensed Williams and Adams had done more than simply shake hands. Williams then handed over to the deputies an item in his hand, which officials later claimed was a Percocet pill.

When Adams was searched, deputies reportedly found Percocet, marijuana, and tobacco that had been covered with food seasoning to mask the odor. He was later transported to Grady Hospital after he supposedly consumed other contraband in an effort to destroy evidence.

Adams now faces a handful of new charges: possession of schedule II controlled substance, willful obstruction of law enforcement, possession of marijuana less than one ounce, possession of alcoholic beverage by inmate, and willful obstruction of law enforcement officers. He is currently serving life without parole for a previous murder conviction.

Keith Adams, one of Williams’ attorneys, denied that his client has any culpability in the incident. "The reality is Mr. Williams had nothing to do with what went on in the courtroom yesterday," the attorney said. "One of the co-defendants on his way to the restroom attempted to pass something to Mr. Williams, who immediately turned it over to the deputy."

Keith Adams also claimed that Williams did not even know what defendant Adams had allegedly passed to him. "We don’t know what it is, did not know," the attorney stated. "It was turned over to a deputy right away."

The supposed drug transaction forced a delay in the proceedings, which have already become tediously long. Judge Ural Glanville had to read the entire 95-page indictment for prospective jurors that day and had to do it all again for hundreds of prospective jurors the following day as well.

Earlier this week, the mother of one of the defendants was arrested after deputies claimed she tried to hide an envelope containing tobacco wrapping papers and tobacco products in a bag of clothing that she then gave to her son. Latasha Kendrick, the 51-year-old mother of Deamonte Kendrick, aka Yak Gotti, has been charged with one count of criminal attempt to commit a misdemeanor. A warrant has also been issued for Nyesha Cox, the mother of Deamonte Kendrick's child, in connection to the incident, though Cox has not yet been arrested.

All 14 defendants in the RICO case are supposedly members of a gang called Young Slime Life or YSL, which has allegedly committed heinous acts of violence all over the Atlanta area since its inception in 2012. For example, several of the defendants have been implicated in the murder of rival gang leader Donovan Thomas Jr. in 2015. Williams allegedly rented a car used in the commission of that crime. YSL has also allegedly been linked to the Bloods, a notorious gang that began in Los Angeles in the early 1970s but now has affiliations throughout the country.

The defendants deny that their association is a gang and insist instead that they are a collective of local black artists. That prosecutors have submitted as evidence rap lyrics written by Williams and other defendants seems both to undermine and reify that notion, just as it tests the limits of free speech. The entire RICO trial is expected to last at least a year.

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