WASHINGTON -- Drug Enforcement Administration agents stationed abroad attended "sex parties" that were allegedly funded with money from drug cartels, according to a Justice Department report released Thursday.
The report, from the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General, discloses that seven DEA agents had admitted to attending parties with prostitutes, and that they had been suspended for between two and 10 days as a result. The report focuses on the handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at several federal law enforcement agencies under the Justice Department's umbrella.
"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," the report states.
The Inspector General officials who compiled the report said they were "particularly troubled" by allegations about the "sex parties" taking place "over a period of several years" while the agents were stationed in an overseas office.
"The misconduct occurred for several years while these special agents held Top Secret clearances," the report states. "Many of these agents were alleged to have engaged in this high-risk sexual behavior while at their government-leased quarters, raising the possibility that DEA equipment and information also may have been compromised as a result of the agents’ conduct."
The DEA inspector told the Inspector General that it was "common for prostitutes to be present at business meetings involving cartel members and foreign officers."
The report also suggests that DEA officials stonewalled the DOJ investigators looking into the issue. According to the report, only one internal affairs official provided any "meaningful information" regarding this particular case, and DOJ's investigation was "unnecessarily delayed" by the failure of DEA officials to provide information "at the outset."
Two DEA agents who were under investigation had also alleged that a supervising agent "frequented a prostitution establishment while in their overseas assignment and often took agents serving on temporary duty to this establishment and facilitated sexual encounters there."
The report found that the investigation was never referred to another DEA office to determine if the behavior of the agents in question should affect their security clearances. The investigating officials apparently "did not believe that the special agents’ conduct rose to the level of a security risk requiring a referral," even though the "sex parties" allegedly occurred in "government-leased quarters where agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices, and other government-issued equipment were present." That could have "created potential security risks for the DEA and for the agents who participated in the parties, potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail, or coercion," the report states.
Some of the agents alleged to have solicited prostitutes were involved in investigations of police officers who made the allegations.
"If these Special Agents had served as government witnesses at the trials of these defendants, their alleged misconduct would have had to be disclosed to defense attorneys and would likely have significantly impaired their ability to testify at trial," the report states. "Ultimately, the government reached plea agreements with both defendants and the DEA Special Agents’ misconduct did not prevent the government from achieving a favorable result in the narcotics conspiracy case."
A DEA spokesman declined to respond to questions on the matter and referred an inquiry to DOJ.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the committee would "vigorously" pursue the issues raised by the report.
"We need to weed out those who risk our national security, embarrass the country, and skirt the law," Chaffetz said. "We need to find the root of the culture and management problems inside these agencies that allow such behavior to be left unchecked. This needs to end."
This story has been updated with comment from Rep. Jason Chaffetz.