Posted by Brandon Barrett on May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

DEA implicated in Colombia prostitution scandal

Members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are being investigated for hiring prostitutes after being implicated by a Secret Service agentCBS News reported Monday.

The allegations were revealed to investigators during an interview with a Secret Service member about the hiring of prostitutes by the agency and members of the U.S. military ahead of last month’s Summit of the Americas. The scandal has engulfed the agency since details were revealed last month — the latest allegations could indicate a “troubling culture” spread across U.S. law enforcement, according to senior Homeland Security Committee official Senator Susan Collins.

Two members of the DEA, which has officers stationed in Bogota and Cartagena, “apparently entertained female foreign national masseuses” in one of the agents’ apartments, said Collins.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration was provided information from the Secret Service unrelated to the Cartagena hotel Secret Service incident, which the DEA immediately followed up on, making DEA employees available to be interviewed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General (OIG),” according to an official DEA response. An agency spokesperson did not provide any further comment to Colombia Reports.

The “DEA takes allegation of misconduct very seriously and will take appropriate personnel action, if warranted, upon the conclusion of the OIG investigation,” read the agency’s official statement.

Secret Service agents allegedly hired 21 prostitutes in the coastal city of Cartagena just days before U.S. President Barack Obama arrived for the international political summit. The scandal came to light when a prostitute called police because one of the agents, Arthur Huntington, allegedly refused to pay her the $800 they had initially agreed upon. Prostitution is legal in Colombia.

“It’s disturbing that we may be uncovering a troubling culture that spans more than one law enforcement agency,” Collins said in a statement. “The evidence thus far indicates that this likely was not just a one-time incident.”

The Secret Service revealed Monday that another agent has come forward to report their possible misconduct while on duty in Cartagena. The agent has been placed on administrative leave.

Eight Secret Service members have left the agency and one has had his security clearance revoked over the scandal.

The federal enforcement agency’s head, Mark Sullivan and Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards will testify in a U.S. congressional hearing regarding the incident Wednesday.

American investigators questioned one of the prostitutes at the center of the scandal, Dania Suarez, in Spain on May 10. Suarez has been accused of offering two other prostitutes $56,000 to drug agents in order to extract sensitive information from them.

A U.S. congressional committee report released May 1 determined that the prostitutes involved in the scandal had no ties to terrorist organizations or drug cartels.