DEA chief: Can't 'pre-judge' probe of alleged agent involvement with prostitutes

DEA Director Michelle Leonhart testified about the three agents allegedly involved with prostitutes in Colombia.

Story highlights

  • Secret Service and DEA agents were in Colombia in April, ahead of a presidential trip
  • Nine Secret Service agents have lost their jobs for allegedly spending time with prostitutes
  • No action has been taken against three DEA agents still under investigation
  • The head of the DEA says "if there was misconduct, they will face our disciplinary process"
Several members of Congress pressed the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday to explain why stronger action has not been taken against three agents under investigation for alleged involvement with prostitutes in Colombia.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, noted that nine Secret Service agents lost their jobs for spending time with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, in April. The men were sent to Cartagena in advance of a presidential trip. Sensenbrenner wanted to know why the DEA agents haven't been fired.
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said she must wait until the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General concludes its probe concerning the allegations against the three agents.
"It's not really appropriate for me to pre-judge the results, but I guarantee you that if there was misconduct, they will face our disciplinary process," said Leonhart.
Leonhart said she immediately pulled her agents out of Colombia when she learned of the allegations and made them available to the inspector general for interviews. "They are presently on limited duty while the investigation is taking place," she said. A DEA official told CNN the agents currently are not involved in any investigatory work and their only current task is to cooperate with investigators.
According to two government sources briefed on the investigation, one DEA agent had a long-term relationship with a prostitute.
Allegations concerning the DEA agents came to light following reports concerning twelve Secret Service agents who went out drinking at Cartagena night clubs on April 11 and ended up bringing women back to their hotel rooms. Three of those agents were cleared of serious misconduct. The military opened an investigation of 12 service members for their alleged involvement but has not announced any findings yet.
The issue of DEA involvement came up when a Secret Service agent voluntarily reported to his supervisors that had attended a party with the DEA agents and several women at a Cartagena apartment on April 13. The Secret Service agent ---the 13th agent to be caught up in the scandal -- is currently on administrative leave and is not expected to lose his job, according to several sources.
That Secret Service agent said he accepted a massage from a woman he thought was a masseuse and that when things started to turn sexual he stopped it. The agent is the third supervisor caught up in the Colombia controversy. According to a law enforcement official, the agent works in protective intelligence which reviews any threats and risks to the president.
"No classified or sensitive information was compromised" by the 13th agent or the ones involved in the partying on April 11, said the official.
There was a delay in Congress being told the details about the 13th agent. "One significant concern was that there were DEA agents on the ground and care had to be taken not to accidentally identify them or disrupt any ongoing investigations," said the law enforcement official. The DEA agents worked undercover, acording to officials.
Secret Service spokesman Max Millien said the agent "self-reported potential misconduct" on April 19 and an investigation was begun. Millien said Congress was fully briefed on May 4. "Throughout this process the Secret Service has worked diligently to brief Congress on the details of this investigation in a transparent and comprehensive manner."