Raids turn up legal heat on Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs in sex-trafficking investigation

The rapper and mogul Sean Combs is facing mounting legal troubles after federal agents searched his properties in Los Angeles and Miami as part of a sex-trafficking investigation.

On Monday morning, US Department of Homeland Security agents in tactical gear and armored vehicles raided two of Combs’s mansions as part of an investigation by federal authorities in New York, sources told the Associated Press.

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Federal agents raid multiple properties of Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs
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While Combs has not been named as the target of the investigation, it follows numerous sexual assault allegations against the Bad Boy Records founder that have upended the career of one of the most prominent and enduring names in hip-hop.

In November, the singer Cassie, who dated Combs, accused him of rape and severe physical abuse spanning more than a decade. In a shocking lawsuit filled with harrowing accounts of abuse, Cassie alleged that Combs had subjected her to “a cycle of abuse, violence and sex trafficking”, forced her to have sex with male prostitutes, and used his powerful network to keep her trapped in the relationship. The pair settled one day after the lawsuit was filed.

In the months since, Combs – who has also been known as Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Diddy and Love – has faced several more lawsuits accusing him of rape, sexual assault, physical violence and revenge porn. Combs has denied all allegations and said he will “fight for my name”.

Attorney Douglas Wigdor, who represents Cassie and another woman who sued Combs, said in a statement on Monday: “Hopefully, this is the beginning of a process that will hold Mr Combs responsible for his depraved conduct.”

It is not yet known whether Monday’s searches are connected to the allegations made against Combs in recent months, and Combs has not been charged. Officials have not publicly acknowledged that they searched his homes, but unnamed law enforcement sources have confirmed the raids to media.

Homeland Security Investigations said in a statement on Monday that it “executed law enforcement actions as part of an ongoing investigation, with assistance from HSI Los Angeles, HSI Miami and our local law enforcement partners.”

Footage captured by KABC, a local TV news station, showed a police line around a Los Angeles house in the affluent Holmby Hills neighborhood near Beverly Hills, and a group of agents in the home’s backyard near the pool. Los Angeles police were also at the home at the time of the search, Fox LA reported.

Investigators briefly detained two of Combs’s sons outside the home while the search was under way.

Agents set up a command post outside the residence and agents could be seen entering and leaving for several hours after the search began.

Federal investigators in New York have interviewed several people in relation to allegations of sex trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault and the solicitation and distribution of illegal narcotics and firearms, anonymous sources told NBC and Rolling Stone.

Combs was in Miami on Monday and planning to leave to the Bahamas, NBC reported, and investigators seized phones from him before his scheduled departure. Flight trackers show that a private plane belonging to Combs traveled from the Los Angeles area to Antigua on Monday, though Combs was not on it.

Representatives for Combs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The allegations against Combs, a three-time Grammy winner who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, have threatened his business empire and his legacy. More than a dozen companies cut ties with Revolt, the TV network Combs co-founded, after Cassie’s lawsuit and Combs temporarily stepped down from his role as chair of the company in November. His most recent album was nominated for best progressive R&B album at the Grammy awards, but Combs did not attend.

Advocacy groups have praised Cassie for bring Combs’ alleged crimes to light. Powerful people like Combs have been able to escape accountability for too long, Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder and executive director at the national gender justice organization UltraViolet, said in a statement. UltraViolet had pushed the Grammys to cut ties with Combs following Cassie’s allegations and to ban him from the awards show.

“Because of Cassie, and the three other women who came forward to tell their stories, we all now know the real Sean Combs,” Thomas said. “His brand deals have collapsed, fellow artists have distanced themselves from him and called for accountability, and even though he was nominated for a Grammy award this year, he didn’t show up because he knew he would not be welcome there.”

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