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Rapper 6ix9ine arrested on robbery, racketeering and firearms charges

The Guardian logo The Guardian 20/11/2018 Ben Beaumont-Thomas
(Photo by SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images) © Getty (Photo by SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images)

The US rapper 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez and also known as Tekashi 6ix9ine, could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of extensive new criminal charges that have been laid against him.

Hernandez, whose single Fefe went double platinum and reached No 3 in the US charts in July, was arrested on Sunday, the culmination of what prosecutors say is a five-year investigation of him and his former management team. His legal team applied for bail, on condition that Hernandez surrender his passport, undergo house arrest and pay $1m, but the request was denied and he remains in custody.

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Hernandez, 22, is accused of being a member of “a violent sect of the Bloods” gang, and four of his associates were arrested on Saturday: his ex-manager Kifano “Shottie” Jordan, plus Faheem “Crippy” Walter, Jensel “Ish” Butler and Jamel “Mel Murda” Jones, who were members of Hernandez’s security team. These four face separate drugs charges of selling heroin, fentanyl, MDMA and marijuana.

Hernandez faces racketeering charges as a result of his alleged activity with gang members. One of the most serious is a charge of conspiracy to commit murder: an innocent bystander was shot in an incident in July – fallout from an alleged plan to shoot someone the gang saw as disrespecting them. On another occasion, one of the group is said to have fired shots inside the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, with no one injured. Hernandez is also being charged for the illegal ownership of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

(Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Redferns) © Getty (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Redferns)

There is also a charge of armed robbery after an incident in April, in which the group are alleged to have robbed a rival gang at gunpoint in Times Square, New York. Items said to have been stolen in the robbery were found at Hernandez’s home during a search in September. Hernandez is also alleged to have filmed the robbery.

Prosecutors summed up the charges as encompassing “narcotics distribution, acts involving violence, and the use of firearms, in music and on social media … The purposes of the Enterprise included preserving and protecting the power, territory, and profits of the Enterprise through acts involving murder … and threats of violence.” The robbery charge has a seven year minimum sentence, while the collected racketeering charges carry a 25-year minimum sentence, if convicted.

Hernandez did not comment on the allegations and no plea has yet been made, though Hernandez’s lawyer Lance Lazzaro characterised him as a mere affiliate with the gang, who has only known them for a year. Lazzaro plans to appeal against the bail decision.

(Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage) © Getty (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage)

Hernandez had previously attempted to distance himself from his associates, saying in an Instagram video on Friday: “I’ve fired everybody in my team … I don’t give a fuck who you used to see me with, they no longer around.” Ahead of his arrest on Sunday, Hernandez was taken into protective custody on Saturday, after prosecutors said they learned, via wiretaps, that his former associates planned to shoot him. Hernandez initially rejected the protection, but after prosecutors learned that he was planning a visit to a casino, they feared “a random shooting” in public, and took him into custody.

Hernandez’s subsequent arrest could violate the probation terms he was already under, after he pleaded guilty in 2015 to the use of a child in a sexual performance. Hernandez eventually avoided prison for the crime, but was sentenced to four years’ probation in October. His probation terms stated he must not partake in any gang activity and should complete 1,000 hours of community service. He said in a statement at the time that he was trying to move on: “I have millions of kids, youth, around the world that look up to me as a role model. I’m trying to convince the world that I’m a human being.”

Prosecutors nevertheless allege that Hernandez spent time with his alleged gang associates in the immediate aftermath of the probation hearing. Another shooting occurred at a party celebrating the probation decision, after a security guard shot a man who attacked him with a chair outside the Philippe Chow restaurant in New York.

(Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Redferns) © Getty (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Redferns)

Earlier this year, Hernandez was arrested for allegedly choking a 16-year-old in a Texas mall, and also for driving with an expired licence and subsequently assaulting a police officer, neither of which alleged incidents were found to violate his original probation terms. Two of his video shoots this year have been the target of shootings, one for a track with 50 Cent in August, and another for a track with Kanye West and Nicki Minaj earlier this month.

With his extensive face tattoos and rainbow-coloured hair, Hernandez is one of the most striking young rappers in the US, known for provocative lyrics about sex, drugs and violence. He broke into the mainstream with his track Gummo in 2017, which reached No 12 on the US charts, and has since collaborated with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Offset and Young Thug. His debut full-length release, the mixtape Day69, reached No 4 in the US charts in February, and his new album, Dummy Boy, is scheduled for release on Friday.

Related: Famous rappers who've ventured into Hollywood [StarsInsider]


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