Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is target of investigation carried out by Homeland Security team that specializes in human trafficking, source says


Homes belonging to Sean “Diddy” Combs were searched by authorities Monday because he is a target of a federal investigation carried out by a Department of Homeland Security team that handles human trafficking crimes, according to a senior federal law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

The probe is being led by the US attorney for the Southern District of New York and carried out by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations’ Transnational Organized Crime Division, the official told CNN.

The investigation stems from many of the same allegations put forth by several civil lawsuits filed in New York against Combs with allegations of sexual assault, including one filed in December in federal court that also included allegations of sex trafficking, according to a second law enforcement source familiar with Monday’s searches. Combs has previously denied those allegations.



Heavily armed teams of HSI agents searched Combs’ homes in Los Angeles and the Miami area Monday – some riding in armored vehicles, in part because authorities believed Combs employs armed private security at each of his residences, the first source said.

Agents were authorized to search for documents, phones, computers and other electronic devices that hold data or videos, the second law enforcement source said.

A law enforcement source earlier told CNN that Monday’s searches were related to an ongoing sex trafficking investigation.

HSI in New York said Monday it “executed law enforcement actions as part of an ongoing investigation” in cooperation with local law enforcement and HSI units in Los Angeles and Miami, and would “provide further information as it becomes available.”

Combs’ representatives have not returned CNN’s request for comment on the searches.



Lawsuits had made allegations of sex trafficking
Combs has been accused of sex trafficking in three separate lawsuits filed in recent months – allegations the star has repeatedly denied. It is still unclear which allegations are included in the federal probe.

In November, Combs settled a suit brought by his former girlfriend, singer Casandra “Cassie” Ventura. The suit, filed in federal court in New York’s southern district, alleged Combs raped her, forced her to engage in sex trafficking and subjected her to years of other abuses.

The decision to settle the suit was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing,” Ben Brafman, an attorney for Combs, told CNN in a statement at the time. “Mr. Combs’ decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best.”

Weeks later, at least two other civil lawsuits were filed in New York against Combs with allegations of sexual assault, including one filed in December in federal court that also included allegations of sex trafficking.

“I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy,” Combs said in response to the December suit. “Sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday. Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”

Most recently, one of Combs’ former employees, producer and videographer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, filed a lawsuit last month accusing Combs of sexual assault and leading a “widespread and dangerous criminal sex trafficking organization,” among other allegations. The suit was filed in federal court in New York’s southern district.

Combs’ attorney denied the allegations and called Jones’ claims “lies.”

“His reckless name-dropping about events that are pure fiction and simply did not happen is nothing more than a transparent attempt to garner headlines. We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies,” Diddy’s attorney, Shawn Holley, said last month.

Federal authorities swarmed Diddy’s homes
Armed law enforcement officers were seen around Combs’ residences Monday in Los Angeles’ Holmby Hills neighborhood and Miami Beach’s exclusive community of Star Island, CNN crews reported.

At least one armored law enforcement vehicle was seen arriving at the Los Angeles property, and agents were processing paperwork on card tables outside the Miami-area home. Mobile command post vehicles were visible at both properties.

The activity at the Star Island property was a search warrant execution, a Homeland Security Investigations representative in Miami told CNN.

HSI – the Department of Homeland Security’s lead investigative arm – is responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, including human trafficking. It also handles cases of terrorism, narcotics smuggling and other organized criminal activity.

HSI investigators departed the Star Island home outside Miami just before 11 p.m. Monday, a CNN crew reported.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN’s Josh Campbell, Holmes Lybrand, Elizabeth Wagmeister and Carlos Suarez contributed to this report.,official%20briefed%20on%20the%20investigation.

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