DEA chief expected to resign amid 'sex parties' scandal

RTR4XB4ZReuters/James Lawler DugganDEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA.

Michele Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is expected to resign “soon,” CBS News reported Tuesday.

A representative for the DEA declined to comment to Business Insider on the report. According to CBS, Leonhart has led the agency since 2007.

If true, the resignation would come in the aftermath of a series of highly embarrassing reports involving DEA agents participating in “sex parties” with prostitutes paid by drug cartels. The alleged parties were revealed last month in an explosive inspector general report on sexual misconduct by Department of Justice employees.

The alleged “sex parties” took place in Bogota, Colombia, as far back as 2001, another report said.

“This new internal report describes not one or two isolated incidents, but literally dozens of parties with prostitutes,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said at a hearing grilling Leonhart last week, according to Reuters.

The inspector general accused supervisors of not doing enough to report and end the behaviour once it became known to them. The original report also accused the agents of creating “security risks” by allowing the prostitute parties to occur around sensitive government equipment. (According to complaints, the parties were “loud.”)

“In particular, the Inspector said that she explained to [Office of Professional Responsibility] management that the fact that most of the ‘sex parties’ occurred in government-leased quarters where agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices, and other government-issued equipment were present 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 said.

ColombiaREUTERS/John VizcainoGeneral view of illuminated Christmas decorations at Monserrate church in Bogota December 19, 2011.

The agents involved “should have known” the parties were funded by the drug cartels, the report said.

“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. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” it said. “The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.”

Other troubling allegations were also detailed in the inspector general report. In another case involving prostitutes, DEA agents frequently attended a brothel, and a prostitute was allegedly assaulted after a payment disagreement.

“We found that a Regional Director, an Acting Assistant Regional Director (AARD), and a Group Supervisor failed to report … repeated allegations of DEA Special Agents (SA) patronizing prostitutes and frequenting a brothel while in an overseas posting, treating these allegations as local management issues,” the report said. “It was also alleged that one of the subjects in the supervisors’ group assaulted a prostitute following a payment dispute.”

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