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NBA YoungBoy lawyers uncover ‘Operation Never Free Again;’ pre-trial release requested

NBA YoungBoy performs at the Lil' WeezyAna Fest at Champions Square on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017,...
NBA YoungBoy performs at the Lil' WeezyAna Fest at Champions Square on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)(Amy Harris | Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 2:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Lawyers for Baton Rouge-based, chart-topping rapper Kentrell Gaulden, or YoungBoy Never Broke Again, have filed for a pre-trial release after being “blindsided” by an arrest in Los Angeles in March.

Gaulden was taken into FBI custody on March 23 on an outstanding warrant. According to a court document obtained by FOX 8, Gaulden’s lawyers say the arrest warrant, issued on March 10, was on a state bond for the same alleged conduct.

Attorneys call the arrest an “inexplicable tactical decision by the government.”

Gaulden is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm not registered to him. The charges stem from a music video shoot in September 2020. Gaulden and 16 others were arrested on drug and firearm charges in Baton Rouge.

In December, Baton Rouge police were ordered to return more than $40,000 in cash, a $300,000 cashier’s check, and two diamond chains that were confiscated during the arrest.

More: NBA YoungBoy taken into FBI custody in Los Angeles

Attorneys allege federal officials in Baton Rouge contacted authorities in Los Angeles to orchestrate Gaulden’s arrest instead of arranging a voluntary surrender, which they say would have been more appropriate.

YoungBoy’s lawyers claim the title of the operation was “NEVER FREE AGAIN,” a play on the rapper’s Never Broke Again brand. His attorneys argue that the operation title is a status offense.

“This massive and wildly unnecessary militaristic display of force and intimidation to arrest an individual for a status offense, who was already on bond for the same charges at the state level and represented by counsel, for a highly visible and public figure who has no prior history of fleeing law enforcement, created a dangerous situation for everyone involved when law enforcement could have simply contacted Mr. Gaulden’s counsel and arranged for a voluntary surrender,” attorneys from Manasseh, Gill, Knipe, & Belanger P.L.C. and Drew Findling of the Findling Law Firm P.C. said in the pre-trial release request.

The document also detailed “large and highly unnecessary militaristic force and power” used to arrest YoungBoy. There were reportedly one FBI agent, three Los Angeles Police Department vehicles, 11 Los Angeles Police Department and Baton Rouge FBI agents, an MTF police officer, and a helicopter.

Attorneys also pointed out that the seized firearms hadn’t been used in “any illegal manner.” Furthermore, both firearms alleged to have been possessed by YoungBoy were claimed by others who were detained by law enforcement officials.

“The only evidence of their motivation behind this decision is the title of the operation, “NEVER FREE AGAIN,” a clear attack on the defendant’s brand “Never Broke Again” and related legal entities,” the court documents state.

“There is no testimony or other evidence as to how the firearm came to be inside that vehicle or how long it had been in the vehicle,” the documents state. “Nor have any fingerprints, DNA testing, or other forensics been performed which would demonstrate Mr. Gaulden knowingly possessed that firearm at any time.”

In April, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ordered Gaulden to remain detained pending trial. He was given a $540,000 bond in the Central District of California.

On April 1, a Louisiana judge decided to revoke his bond, citing a history of probation violations and his “characteristics and history, which reflect a pattern of violent behavior stretching back several years.”

Gaulden was transferred to St. Martin Parish Correctional Center on April 27.

He has pleaded not guilty to federal weapons charges.

He is scheduled to appear in court again in August.

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