The FBI has arrested 18 alleged members of the “Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation” gang in New York. Hip-hop artist Casanova surrendered to authorities on Dec. 3 after authorities alleged that the “Set Trippin” artist is a member of the gang.
Casanova, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, surrendered in the federal racketeering case, which accused the gang of crimes that include robbery, racketeering and drug dealing in New York City and the Hudson Valley including Westchester, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
The indictment charged one alleged gang member, Brandon Soto, of murder in the September death of 15-year-old high school student Jalani Jones.
Casanova, who is signed to Roc Nation, was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and firearms possession.
Twitter users found the timing of the indictment suspicious. One person tweeted, “The timing of this is to distract from the fact the President Trump was selling pardons. The FBI is once again being used to protect Republicans. The New York field office is just a bunch of crooks looking after other crooks.”
The U.S. Justice Department announced this week that it is investigating a “bribery-for-pardons” scandal involving Trump.
“Y’all personally target BLACK entertainers in NY even if they are clean .. it’s disgusting”, a Twitter user posted.
Raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, Casanova is known for hits such as “Don’t Run.”
Casanova proclaimed his innocence in a video posted on Instagram by The Shade Room, filmed moments before he turned himself in. He warned other hip-hop artists to be careful. “As you already know, I’m fighting serious charges right now. But I’m innocent…I’ve been fighting my whole life so I will get through this…Rappers, we are a target, just be careful out there.”
Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation, which has been around for more than a decade, operates in four of New York City’s five boroughs — Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn — as well as Westchester and parts of upstate New York, according to the indictment.
Several members face at least one charge that would carry a maximum prison sentence of life in prison.
Authorities alleged that Casanova often promoted his ties to Gorilla Stone by posting images of diamond-encrusted gorilla pendants on social media. In a memo, prosecutors urged a judge to hold him and most of his associates without bail, Page Six reported.
Apparently, Casanova posted a photo of a pair of diamond-encrusted gorilla pendants to his Instagram account in July. Another post shows him standing beside an oversized mural of a gorilla.
“Using his public platform, he has amplified the message of the gang — both through his music and his social media profiles,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Shiva Logarajah.
On top of this, court papers say the artist appeared on a “gang anthem” over the summer called “Big Ape” by Klass Murda, which has more than 1.8 million views on YouTube and features other gang members.
The Manhattan Federal Court filing also claimed Casanova gave a cut of his music earnings to the gang’s founder, Dwight “Dick Wolf” Reid, who is serving a life sentence for the alleged point-blank execution of an enemy in 2014, News Break reported.
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Casanova, 34, has twice been convicted of first-degree robbery, according to the court papers.
Prosecutors allege the Casanova is also a “drug supplier” for Gorilla Stone, using two other members as dealers to move his product in New York. Casanova’s attorney, James Kousouros, told ABC News, “Mr. Senior is fully confident that he’ll be exonerated when all the facts are brought forth.”
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