Drug Enforcement Administration agents like to party with the locals while working overseas, according to a report released today by the Department of Justice. The report, released by the department's inspector general, found that for years, several DEA agents stationed overseas held "sex parties" with prostitutes paid for by local drug cartels, likely in Colombia. According to the investigation, the parties were typically hosted at DEA "quarters" leased by the US government, and Colombian police officers also provided "protection for the DEA agents' weapons and property during the parties."
The revelations come as part of a wider investigation of the handling of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in several DOJ agencies, including Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the DEA, the FBI, and the US Marshals Service. The DOJ's inspector general began its investigation after several Secret Service members were sent home from Colombia in 2012 for alleged involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena during a presidential trip to the Summit of the Americas. After reviewing the alleged sexual misconduct of agents in Cartagena, the OIG called for a broader review of "the nature, frequency, reporting, investigation, and adjudication of allegations of sexual misconduct" across the agency.
The findings of the investigation are damning, to say the least. The Justice Department found that the DEA suffered from a "lack of coordination between the internal affairs offices," murky sexual misconduct and sexual harassment reporting policies, and "weaknesses in detecting sexually explicit text messages and images," all of which seem like fairly important components when making sure your employees aren't attending prostitute orgies paid for by Colombian drug lords.
In another instance uncovered by the report, multiple witnesses reported that a DEA assistant regional director had "solicited prostitutes at a farewell party held in [his] honor." In an interview with the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility, the director in question claimed that the witnesses must be "100% lying," and the agency did not continue its investigation.
Even in adjudicated cases of sexual harassment, the DEA failed to charge subjects with sexual harassment, instead charging them with other, more innocuous-sounding indiscretions, like "Conduct Unbecoming" and "Failure to Follow Written Instructions." When asked by investigators why the sexual harassment offense category evenexisted, a DEA official "who is heavily involved in the discipline process responded, 'It's for show.'"
The DEA wasn't the only department with lax responses to sexual misconduct. According to the report, the ATF and the Marshal's Service also failed to report risky and inappropriate sexual behavior. Other allegations include an ATF program manager "failed to report allegations that two training instructors were having consensual sex with their students," even after discovering that the instructors had "engaged in substantially the same activities three years earlier;" and that a deputy US Marshal entered a "romantic relationship" with a fugitive's spouse for more than a year, despite requests from supervisors to break it off.
The report also claims that the DEA and FBI did not make the investigation easy for the inspector general's office, allegedly withholding information during initial interviews and "unnecessarily delaying" responses to investigators. According to the report, DEA employees "stated they were given the impression by the DEA that they were not to discuss the case with the [Office of the Inspector General] while the case remained open."
In a statement to Politico Thursday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R) said he wanted all agents involved fired immediately, adding that "anytime you bring a foreign national into your room, you're asking for trouble." The committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the report's findings next month.
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