By Evan Perez
WASHINGTON (CNN – March 27, 2015) — Drug Enforcement Administration agents in foreign postings attended sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels, according to a Justice Department inspector general report.
The report by Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, cites light punishments and poor handling of sexual misconduct cases at DEA and other Justice Department agencies.
Employees from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service allegedly had inappropriate relationships with subordinates, the report said, with few repercussions.
In some cases, federal agents holding sensitive jobs, with security clearances, violated federal policies by having sex with prostitutes overseas and the agencies didn’t properly investigate.
Horowitz also criticized the DEA and FBI for initially being uncooperative with the investigation, with the DEA refusing to turn over documents they were required to under federal law.
The number of sexual misconduct cases are small, Horowitz’s report says, but “we found instances where ATF, DEA, and USMS employees engaged in a pattern of high-risk sexual behavior, but security personnel were not informed about these incidents until well after they occurred, or were never informed. By failing to refer these allegations to security personnel, the high-risk sexual behavior of these employees has the potential to expose ATF, DEA, and USMS employees to coercion, extortion, and blackmail and presents security risks for these components.”
The DEA’s troubles appear to be the worst among Justice Department agencies, according to the inspector general.
The DEA’s internal watchdog, in interviews in 2009-10, found that police in an unidentified foreign country reported that DEA agents, including senior supervisors, had sex with prostitutes and committed other serious sexual misconduct.
A foreign police officer allegedly arranged sex parties for DEA agents at their U.S. government-paid apartments with prostitutes paid for by local drug cartels. The inspector general said the agents should have known the prostitutes were paid for by cartel funds.
The foreign police officers also said they provided protection for the DEA agents’ weapons during the parties and that three DEA agents were provided money, expensive gifts and weapons from drug cartel members, the report said.
DEA supervisors didn’t discipline all the agents involved, treating the incident as a local issue for a supervisor to handle. An agent was suspended for 14 days for allowing his apartment to be used in the parties.
Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said the department “takes the issues raised in the Inspector General report seriously and, as the appendix of the report makes clear, is taking steps to implement policies and procedures to help prevent them from happening in the future. The Department is already working with the law enforcement components to ensure a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment and misconduct is enforced and that incidents are properly reported.”
Among the other findings, according to the report: in 2009, an ATF Director of Industry Operations on a temporary assignment modified a hotel room door to facilitate sex acts with anonymous people.
Law enforcement officials say the executive used a website to invite men to come to his room for sex through a so-called “glory hole.”
His actions were discovered because he tampered with a smoke detector, and the hotel notified local police, according to the report, which added that he told police he had done similar activities before and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “fire prevention interference.” The ATF suspended the executive for 14 days, but has allowed him to keep his “top secret” security clearance. He still works at ATF headquarters.
In 2010, a U.S. Marshals deputy sent to Thailand to extradite a criminal suspect in Bangkok allegedly admitted having sex with prostitutes while on his assignment. The deputy was admonished verbally and the State Department ordered that he no longer be allowed to go to Thailand, according to the report.