Sean 'Diddy' Combs' properties in L.A. and Miami raided by federal agents, Latest Music News - The New Paper

Sean 'Diddy' Combs' properties in L.A. and Miami raided by federal agents

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents have opened an investigation of hip-hop star Sean "Diddy" Combs, searching his properties in Los Angeles and the Miami area, agency officials said on Monday.

The inquiry was led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in New York, where a lawsuit was filed against Combs by a former girlfriend in federal court in November accusing him of engaging in sex trafficking.

Combs, 54, has said that he is innocent and that his accusers were seeking "a quick payday." His New York-based lawyer, Ben Brafman, did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

Television stations in Los Angeles carried aerial video footage showing HSI agents and other law enforcement authorities raiding Combs' lavish estate in the city's upscale Holmby Hills neighborhood.

Los Angeles City News Service reported several people were detained outside the hone but it was unclear whether any arrests were made.

Local news outlets reported that federal authorities also executed a search warrant at the rap mogul's Miami-area home. Reuters footage showed officers going in and out of his property on Miami Beach's Star Island, with agents seen carrying a box of material from the home.

Combs' whereabouts during the raids were not known.

HSI spokespersons, responding to a Reuters query, said: "Earlier today, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York executed law enforcement actions as part of an ongoing investigation, with assistance from HSI Los Angeles, HSI Miami, and our local law enforcement partners."

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation. HSI has broad jurisdiction to investigate the illegal movement of people, goods, money, technology and contraband into, out of and throughout the United States, including sex trafficking.

R&B vocalist Cassandra Ventura sued Combs in federal court in Manhattan in mid-November, accusing him of subjecting her to physical abuse, sexual slavery and rape during a 10-year professional and romantic relationship.

One of the central allegations of Ventura's suit was that Combs forced her to engage in sex acts with male prostitutes he hired while he watched and filmed the encounters.

The lawsuit cited violations of sex trafficking and human trafficking statutes under federal, New York and California laws.

Ventura and Combs, who has used such monikers as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy and Diddy, announced the next day they had settled the case under confidential terms.

Brafman, said at the time that the settlement was "in no way an admission of wrongdoing" and that his client maintained his "flat-out denial" of Ventura's claims.

Ventura's lawsuit was one of at least four civil complaints in recent months leveling sexual assault allegations against Combs.

In December, in response to the latest civil complaint, which accused him of taking part in the gang rape of a teenager that he arranged to fly from Detroit to New York 20 years ago, Combs issued a statement denying all the allegations as fabrications by people seeking money.

Combs, founder of the landmark label Bad Boy Records, is one of the most influential producers and executives in hip-hop and a hugely successful performer, as well as the impresario of his own Sean John clothing line. – REUTERS

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