Colombia: DEA agents in new prostitution scandal
DEA agents in Colombia held sex parties with prostitutes hired by narco-traffickers, according to an investigation by the US Justice Department released March 26. In a series of interviews with DoJ's Office of the Inspector General, former Colombian police officers said that they arranged the parties at government-leased quarters between 2005 and 2008, and also provided protection for the agents' weapons and property during the affairs. The report goes on to detail how several DEA agents were provided money, gifts, and weapons by local drug cartel operatives.
The Washington Post confirmed the parties took place in Cartagena, the scene of the 2012 sex scandal involving the US Secret Service. According to Colombia Reports, the DoJ investigaiton also found that laptops, BlackBerrys, and other government-issued equipment was often present at the parties, creating security risks and potentially exposing the agents to blackmail, extortion and other forms of coercion. The harshest penalty imposed on a participating DEA agent was a 10-day suspension. The report also found that DEA officials attempted to thwart the DoJ investigation, offering little meaningful information even though they possessed knowledge of the events. "It's extremely troubling that federal drug agents lacked the common sense to know that engaging with prostitutes hired by drug cartels was a bad idea," House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), said in a statement.
Colombia Reports also notes that a new report commissoned by the Colombian government found in March that US soldiers and military contractors sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007. The suspects have apparently not been prosecuted due to immunity clauses in bilateral agreements between Washington and Bogotá. The 800-page independent report as part of Colombia's peace process, to help negotiators determine who is responsible for the more than 7 million officially documented victims of the armed conflict.
One of the scholars who helped prepare the report, Renan Vega of the Pedagogic University in Bogotá, cited one 2004 case in the central Colombian town of Melgar (Tolima department), where 53 underage girls were sexually abused by military contractors "who moreover filmed [the abuse] and sold the films as pornographic material." The victims were forced to flee the region after their families received death threats.
One case that has drawn much attention in Colombian media is that of a 12-year-old who in 2007 was raped by a US Army sergeant and a former US military officer at Tolemaida air base outside Melgar as a military contractor. Colombian prosecutors established that the girl had been drugged and subsequently raped by Sgt. Michael J. Coen and private contractor Cesar Ruiz. Colombian authorities were not allowed to arrest the accused, who were subsequently flown out of the country. The victim, her younger sister and mother were forced to flee Melgar and eventually moved to the city of Medellín, as they received threats from forces loyal to the suspects. No US court has indicted the suspects.