Basketball star turned pimp brings human trafficking back to author’s home turf
LAS VEGAS – Chris Baughman’s second book, “Off the Street: Redemption,” took on a more personal note for the former Metropolitan Police Department detective. The recently released book brought the world of pimps, prostitution, violence and greed to Baughman’s old neighborhood when a once-promising high school basketball star was discovered as a pimp.
The case, profiled on “Dateline NBC,” proved to be a different experience for Baughman, who was not only looking into the eyes of a powerful pimp, but a guy he idolized as a child.
“I had it in my mind all these guys were monsters. I had to deal with the fact this was a guy I knew,” Baughman said. “It was different because there’s always a disconnect for me. This time, back in middle school and high school, he was a neighborhood hero. He was supposed to get out of Las Vegas, out of the neighborhood, go pro, do great things.”
The young basketball phenom was seduced by the lifestyle and traded his humanity and freedom for a world of violence, greed and manipulation, Baughman said.
“They fall in love with the idea and what movies, music and the media project,” Baughman said of the men who choose to become pimps. “It’s looking at something and seeing all these great things but you lose your conscience, your humanity to get all these earthly possessions. They become cold and obsessed by greed and wealth.”
“Off the Street,” the first book in the series, was released in 2011, and its success helped raise awareness of Baughman’s expertise. This year, Baughman began filming “Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking,” a show for MSNBC, documenting the work of Baughman and his partner, human rights advocate Aaron Cohen, as they identify trafficked women and attempt to rescue them from the lifestyle. The show will begin airing on MSNBC in January.
Although it is often portrayed as a victimless crime, prostitution is a disguise for human trafficking. Women of all backgrounds, academic accomplishments and social standings have been manipulated and physically forced to sell sex to fund their pimps’ lavish lifestyles, Baughman said.
“The women come from all over. It’s not because they have no options, a bad background or no money,” he said. “For the most part, the main characters in the book had people at home who loved them dearly, wanted them to be safe at home, and didn’t want them hurt. They’re not victims because their parents didn’t care. They’re victims because these guys are that good. Anyone who can fall in love can be a victim.”
Baughman moved to Las Vegas at age 9 and grew up in the rough neighborhoods he would later patrol as an officer and vice detective with the Metropolitan Police Department. Since becoming a police officer at age 24, the Rancho High School graduate also has served as an investigator with the Gangs Unit and as a member of the Pandering Investigation Team (PIT), where he worked with numerous associates in the department and city to bring to justice those who abuse women and force them to lead a life of prostitution.
Published by Behler Publications, “Off the Street: Redemption” is now available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com and other book retailers. Additional information can be found at www.chrisbaughman.com.