U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers in Colombia allegedly participated in sex parties with prostitutes paid for by local drug cartels and received money, gifts and weapons from the groups they were investigating, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General.
Citing Colombian police officials, the report said there were allegations that at least nine DEA agents “solicited prostitutes and engaged in other serious misconduct while in the country.”
The 131-page report looked at allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment from 2009-2012 within the Department of Justice’s law-enforcement branches, including the FBI, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshall Service.
While the report found that there were “relatively few” allegations of sexual misconduct during that period, the DEA in Colombia seems to stand out.
In particular, the report found that local Colombian law officers allegedly arranged “sex parties” for DEA agents with prostitutes over the course of several years. Those parties were held at the agent’s government-leased quarters and were allegedly paid for by local drug cartels. A Colombian official said he sometimes held onto the agent’s weapons during the festivities.
The report also echoes the concerns of a DEA inspector who looked into the case and determined that because the parties took place in locations where the agent’s “laptops, BlackBerry devices and, other government-issued equipment were present,” it created security risks for the officers, “potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail or coercion.”
While some of the DEA agents questioned denied the allegations “the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds,” the report found.
Prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia — including the capital — and the DEA Inspector told investigators that it was “common for prostitutes to be present at business meetings involving cartel members and foreign officers.”
Eventually, seven of 10 agents admitted that they attended parties with prostitutes and the DEA imposed penalties ranging from two-day to 10-day suspensions.
The Office of Inspector General investigation was sparked, in part, by the 2012 Secret Service sex scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. In that incident, eight Secret Service members were fired and a handful of others were reprimanded for hiring prostitutes in the run-up to the Summit of the Americas, which brought together the hemisphere’s leaders.