Several Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly attended “sex parties” at government-leased quarters with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels, according to a report released Thursday by the federal agency’s inspector general.
The alleged misconduct happened over a period of several years and was revealed during a series of interviews conducted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility with host-country police officers from 2009 through 2010, the report said.
The foreign officers claimed that U.S. agents – including an assistant regional director, an assistant special agent in charge, six supervisory special agents and two line special agents previously assigned to the overseas office – solicited prostitutes and accepted money, expensive gifts and weapons from members of a drug cartel.
Three of the agents denied the allegations, while the remaining seven ultimately admitted to attending parties where prostitutes were present. The case file suggests agents who denied the claims should have known the prostitutes were paid for with cartel money, according to the report.
The agents who admitted to the misconduct were suspended anywhere from two to 10 days and one was cleared of all wrongdoing.
Though local culture allows prostitution in areas known as “tolerance zones,” federal agents are prohibited from soliciting their services, which can create a security risk, particularly if government-issued equipment is present as was the case at the parties held in government-leased quarters, the report said.
So the agents were not only subject to punishment under the agency’s sexual misconduct guidelines, but also those in the handling of protected information.
The DEA’s watchdog found that some of the special agents allegedly involved in the sexual misconduct were also involved in investigations of the former host police officers who made the allegations against them, which would have compromised that case should the agents have been called to testify as government witnesses in the narcotics conspiracy trial. The parties reached a plea deal, so the agents were not required to testify.
The investigation was prompted by a similar incident in 2012 involving U.S. Secret Service agents soliciting prostitutes in Cartagena, Columbia, and was part of a greater inquiry into the handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations by federal law enforcement agencies from 2009 to 2012.