Rap mogul "Suge" Knight named in gang crackdown

Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:25pm EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight has been named by police as a member of a notorious gang in a crime-plagued suburb of Los Angeles.

Knight, best known as the co-founder of the rap label Death Row Records, was one of some 200 people named as members of the Mob Piru street gang in a crackdown by authorities in the city of Compton, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.

Knight, who was raised in Compton and spent five years in prison, said that including his name on the list of gang members was a "publicity stunt" by police.

"This is crazy," Knight told the newspaper. "I'm a 42-year-old businessman, not a gang member. I don't even live in Compton anymore. This injunction lists people who are already in jail -- and at least one guy who is long dead."

Gang violence in Compton, a working-class suburb of about 90,000 people, has long been a popular subject for rappers, including the seminal 1988 N.W.A. album "Straight Outta Compton."

Authorities there say Mob Piru members have been terrorizing the neighborhood with drug dealing and shootings and are seeking an injunction that would ban gang members from gathering there.

Knight, whose Death Row label released a string of top-selling rap albums in the 1990s, was famously driving rapper Tupac Shakur when the rap star was killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

Later that year, Knight was sentenced to prison for violating his probation by beating a gang rival in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Todd Eastham)

 
<p>Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, the head of Death Row Records, is shown at the premiere of "Half Past Dead" in Los Angeles in this November 7, 2002 file photograph. Knight has been named by police as a member of a notorious gang in a crime-plagued suburb of Los Angeles. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen</p>