Drug Enforcement Administration agents took part in cartel-funded “sex parties” with prostitutes in Colombia, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general.
The damning new report paints a portrait of agents who put potentially confidential information at risk and acted with impunity, with some of the agents involved receiving punishments of just two-to-10-day suspensions.
The incidents allegedly occurred between 2005 and 2008 when a host-country police officer helped set up the parties, according to interviews with Colombian police officers:
The foreign officer allegedly arranged “sex parties” with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years. 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 foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.
The report stated that the “sex parties” occurred on government-leased quarters while the agents involved held “Top Secret clearances,” which raised the possibility that “DEA equipment and information also may have been compromised as a result of the agents’ conduct.”
Specifically, “agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices, and other government-issued equipment were present [creating] potential security risks for the DEA and for the agents who participated in the parties, potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail, or coercion.”
As Politico reports, the investigation was part of a wider look by the Justice Department into allegations of “sexual harassment and misconduct" in the DEA, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Politico has a rundown of some of the other key allegations in the report, including a deputy U.S. Marshal maintaining a “romantic relationship” with the spouse of a fugitive against agency orders, an ATF official disabling a hotel fire detection system and “[modifying] a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play,” and an ATF Program Manager failing to report consensual sex between training instructors and their students.
“You can’t ignore this. This is terribly embarrassing and fundamentally not right,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz told Politico. “We need to understand what’s happening with the culture … anytime you bring a foreign national into your room, you’re asking for trouble.”
Chaffetz promised major action from his committee when Congress returns from an upcoming two-week recess and said he wanted those involved in the alleged misconduct to be fired.