(CBS NEWS) – Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested the rapper 21 Savage on Sunday, saying the British-born rapper has been in the U.S. illegally for more than a decade.
ICE said it arrested the rapper, whose real name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, during a targeted operation in the metro Atlanta area early Sunday morning. The agency said 21 Savage is a British national and entered the country illegally in 2005, remaining in the U.S. after his nonimmigrant visa expired a year later. He was also convicted in 2014 of felony drug charges in Georgia, which ICE cited as part of his arrest.
ICE said 21 Savage is in custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings in federal immigration courts. A federal law enforcement source told CBS News that 21 Savage was arrested during an operation targeting another rapper, Young Nuddy (real name Quantavious Thomas), and two other men for reasons unrelated to the immigration arrest. All four men were pulled over in a vehicle and arrested.
“We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding,” said Dina LaPolt, 21 Savage’s attorney, who called him “a role model to the young people in the country.”
21 Savage is one of the prominent rappers in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene and performed at the Super Bowl Music Fest on Thursday. His arrest was announced hours before the Super Bowl kicks off at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The news came as a shock to many fans, since a major part of 21 Savage’s persona is his supposed upbringing in Atlanta. He has said in interviews and lyrics that he grew up there, and famously claimed he was expelled from local schools after getting caught with a gun in seventh grade.