The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration defended herself on Tuesday against charges by skeptical members of Congress that the DEA dealt overly lax punishments to agents who participated in “sex parties” with prostitutes in Colombia.
At a hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart also admitted that “a number” of agents who were involved in prostitution were promoted between the time the incidents occurred and the time they were fully investigated. None of the DEA employees involved were fired.
The DEA “sex parties” were revealed in a report that was released last month by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. The IG report addressed the handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at a number of federal law enforcement agencies that fall under DOJ’s umbrella.
One of the agents involved retired, while seven others were suspended for periods ranging from one to 10 days, according to internal DEA reports recently turned over to committee investigators. Two other DEA employees received letters of caution.
The reports showed that the allegations about the “sex parties” in Colombia dated back to 2001. One cooperator told investigators he recalled getting prostitutes for at least 15 to 20 parties for DEA agents, and said that he would “stay at the party and provide protection for the agents weapons and personal belongings.”
An agent admitted that he engaged in prostitution and held at least two parties at his residence at which prostitutes were present, according to the documents. He also said that certain parties were “possibly” funded by operational funds. Another agent told investigators that “if an agent stated he did not know if the dancers/strippers who attended parties were prostitutes; they would be lying.”
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