Secret Service agents were found to have employed prostitutes in Cartagena while advancing a trip by President Barack Obama. Now an investigation has shown that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents had parties with prostitutes in Colombia during the last half of the George W. Bush administration.
According to a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, DEA agents participated in “sex parties”—in which the prostitutes were hired by Colombian drug cartels—from 2005 to 2008. The agents were also found to have allowed Colombian police officers to watch over their weapons and property during the parties.
“Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report said. “The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.”
The scandal involved 10 DEA agents, some of whom received suspensions of two to 10 days.
The IG’s report also noted that the DEA didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation. “We were also concerned by an apparent decision by DEA to withhold information regarding a particular open misconduct case,” the report states. “The OIG [Office of Inspector General] was not given access to this case file information until several months after our request, and only after the misconduct case was closed. Once we became aware of the information, we interviewed DEA employees who said that they were given the impression that they were not to discuss this case with the OIG while the case remained open.”
DEA supervisors had been aware of the misconduct for some time because they’d received complaints from the management of the Bogotá building where the parties were taking place, according to Politico.
House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has said he’ll begin hearings on the revelations. “We have to understand issue by issue what is happening. We need to understand how these people are being held accountable. There should be no question about the severity of the punishment,” Chaffetz said. “I don’t care how senior the person is, they are going to have to let these people go.”