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    Detroit rapper Lil Mello arrested in American flag gun case


    Detroit — Federal prosecutors Thursday charged Detroit rapper Lil Mello with a gun crime after investigators said they found a pistol painted like an American flag that he is accused of brandishing in a rap video and on social media posts.

    The 19-year-old rapper, real name Romello Johnson, was arrested and scheduled to make an initial appearance Thursday in federal court on a felony charge of being a marijuana user in possession of a firearm. His arrest follows a short investigation involving YouTube rap videos, an Instagram account and incriminating photographs of an up-and-coming rapper with tens of thousands of followers.

    The case is the latest in an ongoing crackdown by federal agents involving rappers, guns and drugs in one of the nation’s most dangerous big cities. The charges against Johnson come more than three years after federal prosecutors secured the convictions of rappers and members of the Seven Mile Bloods street gang in Detroit — a prosecution chronicled in The Detroit News true-crime series “Death by Instagram.”



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