Jacob Arabo, known worldwide as Jacob the Jeweler, was arrested Thursday morning on charges stemming from a federal indictment of 16 people in Detroit.
The May 10 indictment, from the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Michigan and unsealed today, alleges 16 defendants violated federal drug laws and laundered in excess of $270 million.
The documents allege the defendants maintained a drug operation under the name the "Black Mafia Family" and allegedly transported and distributed thousands of kilos of cocaine across state lines. The 41 year-old Arabo, whose name is spelled several different ways in the papers, was named in the Detroit indictment. The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than 30 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a number of residences and cars.
Arabo, a Russian immigrant, opened his store in Manhattan's midtown diamond district in 1981, and a visit by hip-hop artist Faith Evans in the mid-1990s proved to be the catalyst for his career as jeweler to a galaxy of rappers and actors. Evans introduced Arabo's gold- and diamond-heavy creations to her husband, the late Notorious B.I.G., and thereafter Jacob the Jeweler quickly became not just a baublemaker but an icon and a symbol of attainment in the fiercely brand-obsessed hip-hop universe. His name appeared in hip-hop lyrics and even in a Def Jam video game.
In 2004, Arabo announced a partnership with Kanye West to produce a line of religious-themed jewelry, and that same year, Cartier filed suit against Arabo, claiming that he had modified their products illegally. The May 2006 cover of Vogue magazine featured actress Keira Knightley wearing a pair of Arabo's diamond earrings.
Jacob's attorney Daniel Gotlin had no comment for TMZ.