LAS VEGAS - A federal investigation into sex trafficking in Las Vegas is taking an unexpected turn.
The 8 News NOW I-Team has learned that FBI agents are now looking into possible connections between a suspected prostitution kingpin and a high-profile detective who was once assigned to investigate the sex trade.
When a team of FBI agents raided the Las Vegas home of millionaire music producer Jamal Rashid in 2014, they were backed up by armored vehicles, K-9 units, and heavily armed agents. They seized mountains of records related to Rashid's various businesses, including his outcall entertainment company.
Rashid is better known by his show biz name Mally Mall, starred in his own music videos, and has recorded songs for some of the biggest acts in music, including heartthrob Justin Bieber, who became a close friend of Rashid's. Bieber's visit to Mally Mall's Las Vegas home led to a stunning surprise for investigators -- a link to a superstar cop.
"They make promises to women, young girls, about how I'll take care of you, I love you, we'll live together, we'll make millions of dollars," said former Metro Police Detective Chris Baughman in a Sept. 2011 interview.
During his years with Metro's Vice unit, Chris Baughman became one of the best known Las Vegas cops. He was selected in 2008 for a team that targeted Las Vegas pimps. Baughman and his crew went after the biggest and baddest pimps in Nevada, he became a fixture on local newscasts, including when the I-Team went along on a joint Metro-IRS raid on a suspected pimp living in luxury at Lake Las Vegas. Baughman was there for the soundbites.
"We don't like you preying on our daughters and we're going to keep coming until we either get you or weed you out of our community," Baughman said in the 2011 interview.
His star rose. He was featured in network TV shows, wrote two highly-flattering books about his own role in rescuing prostitutes from violent pimps, and was a star witness in the prosecution of big-time panderers, including Ocean Fleming, a one-time bodyguard to Mally Mall who was sent to prison after a savage attack on one of his hookers.
In his many on-camera interviews, Baughman expressed sympathy for the victims, women who came to him for protection.
"I have seen girls burned with irons, beaten with baseball bats, sexually assaulted," he said in a Spet. 2011 interview.
Baughman left Metro in 2013 to star in a cable TV series called "Slave Hunters." After it was canceled, he tried to get reinstated at Metro but was not rehired.
According to multiple law enforcement sources, vice officers first became concerned about Baughman when he revealed he had taken his teenage daughter to Mally Mall's home so she could meet Justin Bieber. The girl came to know Rashid well enough that she called him "Uncle J."
The FBI raid on Rashid's home was initiated, not by the sex trafficking team, but rather by the public corruption squad. Pointedly, Metro was not invited, One possible focus of that search -- any evidence of a business relationship between Rashid and Baughman.
According to police sources, Baughman admitted to having romantic relationships with women who had worked as prostitutes, including some of the victims who had come to him for protection from pimps.
Since the FBI investigation began, the bureau has twice requested case files from Metro, specifically, files involving pimp investigations that Baughman worked.
A few months ago, Baughman's life took another unexpected turn. He married Deputy D. A. Liz Mercer, the same prosecutor who put away at least three of the pimps that Baughman investigated. Public records show that Baughman's company uses Mercer's home address.
Since the 2014 raid, no charges have been filed against Mally Mall, nor have any been filed against Chris Baughman.
Multiple law enforcement sources have told the I-Team that one of their biggest concerns is what might happen when convicted pimps learn that Detective Baughman allegedly slept with victims who became witnesses.
The I-Team will have further developments as they unfold.
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