OIG Report on DEA Agents' Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Via Politico, the Office of Inspector General has issued a report on sexual misconduct allegations against agents in four law enforcement agencies in the Department of Justice, including the DEA, FBI, ATF and Marshals Service.

The full report is here. It's over 100 pages long, so I've summarized the more salacious parts below: [More...]

The OIG says it reviewe 77 sexual misconduct and sexual harassment cases involving the DEA, and 6 of them involved high-risk sexual behavior.

In a nutshell:

[W]e 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.

We were particularly troubled by multiple allegations involving several DEA special agents participating in “sex parties” with prostitutes while working in an overseas office. The misconduct occurred for several years while these special agents held Top Secret clearances. 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 first DEA case involved prostitutes and sex parties with DEA agents in Bogota:

Case #1: We found that a Regional Director, an Acting Assistant Regional Director (AARD), and a Group Supervisor failed to report through their chain of command or to the DEA OPR 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. It was also alleged that one of the subjects in the supervisors’ group assaulted a prostitute following a payment dispute.

(footnote) The Acting Assistant Regional Director who supervised the two special agents in this case was also alleged to have solicited prostitutes in the DEA case we discuss in Chapter 2, Security of Operations. In that case, the AARD allegedly engaged in sexual relations with prostitutes at a farewell party in the AARD’s honor. There were also allegations operational funds were used to pay for the party and the prostitutes who participated.

The matter was not properly reported. The Acting Assistant Regional Director and Group Supervisor were not disciplined. The Special Agent whose quarters were used for the parties received a 14-day suspension for Conduct Unbecoming a DEA Agent and Improper Association.

OIG says:

The alleged misconduct described above clearly should have been reported to the DEA OPR because it falls within the offense category Criminal, Dishonest, Infamous or Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct that is contrary to the DEA Standards of Conduct and is prohibited in its offense table. (my emphasis.)

Later on in the report, OIG says of this incident that the DEA prematurely closed the book on the matter, even after reports another agent was involved. This agent denied having sex with the prostitutes.

When we asked the DEA OPR Inspector assigned why the case was closed without any additional investigation, the Inspector stated, “If you look a man in the eye and he answers no, then the answer is no -to do more is above my pay grade.” We disagree. (My emphasis.)

Case #2 involved a DEA Assistant Regional Director (ARD) in an overseas Country Office. His assistant, a Foreign Service National, reported :

[H]e made numerous inappropriate sexual comments; asked the FSN to watch pornographic movies; and routinely threw items, yelled at employees, and used other vulgarities in the office and at official functions, among other allegations.

Similar accusations were made against him by a second employee. The DEA did not report the allegations to its OPR division. The OIG found out through the State Department.

the ARD received a letter of reprimand for Failure to Follow Instructions and Conduct Unbecoming a DEA Agent for using profanity, yelling, and throwing things in the office.

There were also findings that the parties were funded with local cartel money.

Case Example: During a series of interviews the DEA OPR conducted from 2009 through 2010, former host-country police officers alleged that several DEA agents, consisting of an Assistant Regional Director (ARD), an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), six Supervisory Special Agents (SSA), and two line Special Agents formerly assigned to the an overseas office, solicited prostitutes and engaged in other serious misconduct while in the country.

The foreign officer allegedly arranged “sex parties” with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years.

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.

The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.

According to OIG:

Ultimately, 7 of the 10 agents admitted attending parties with prostitutes while they were stationed. The DEA imposed penalties ranging from a 2-day suspension to a 10-day suspension. One of the line agents was cleared of all wrongdoing.

The DEA Inspector told us that prostitution is considered a part of the local culture and is tolerated in certain areas called “tolerance zones.”

The DEA had the agents get etiquette training, including "fork and knife training."

The report repeatedly blasts the DEA for stonewalling its investigation:

As noted previously, the OIG was entitled to this information at the outset, and the failure to provide it to us in a timely fashion unnecessarily delayed our review of this matter.

It also points out the security risks associated with the agents' conduct:

In particular, the Inspector said that she explained to OPR 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.

It could also have jeopardized criminal cases the agents were working on:

We found that some of the DEA Special Agents alleged to have solicited prostitutes were also involved in the investigations of the two former host country police officers who made these 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. 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.

As to the other agencies:

Case example: The Marshal and the Fugitive's Wife

  • A Deputy U.S. Marshal entered into a romantic relationship with the common law spouse of a USMS fugitive. He was told to break it off, but kept it going for at least another year. It wasn't reported. When the relationship ended, the fugitive’s spouse lodged a complaint with the OIG. The Marshal was was removed for misconduct, appealed, and reached a settlement allowing him to resign.
  • “For over 3 years, an ATF Program Manager failed to report allegations that two training instructors were having consensual sex with their students. ... the Program Manager learned the same instructors had engaged in substantially the same activities 3 years earlier but had merely counseled the training instructors without reporting the alleged activities” to the Internal Affairs Division.

There's the FBI Agent:

a former Assistant Section Chief responsible for training agents and others abroad on child exploitation and human trafficking issues, had engaged in multiple consensual and commercial sexual encounters over a 7-year period with foreign nationals, including prostitutes, strippers, students in his classes, and members of foreign law enforcement.

He also made false statements after his conduct was discovered.

There's the U.S. Marshal on extradition assignment in Thailand who spent time with prostitutes and wouldn't come to the phone when called by his office (the women with thick accents, believed to be Thai prostitutes, answered his phone and said he was unavailable.)

There is no USMS policy prohibiting the solicitation of prostitutes in jurisdictions where prostitution is legal or tolerated.

The marshal has since gone on another overseas extradition mission. He didn't get off scott-free though: [DUSM is Deputy U.S. Marshal]

the DUSM [was required] to admit the conduct to the DUSM’s spouse in order to mitigate potential security risks, such as potential exposure to coercion, extortion, and blackmail. Although the impact of the DUSM’s conduct may have been mitigated in this manner, it took nearly 2 years after the incident to do so. Accordingly, the USMS was, at the very least, left open to potential security risks for longer than necessary.

The DEA is the most bloated federal agency, operating in 94 countries. It's way past time to reign them in, keeping them within our borders and dealing with U.S. traffickers at home. Congress, through exorbitant spending grants, has allowed them to morph into global holy warriors. This benefits none of us. It just gives the DEA a lot of vacations in foreign countries where they have the opportunity to make ass*s of themselves, while further tarnishing our image abroad.

Legalize, decriminalize, whatever. Either would be a better solution than spending $2 billion a year on an organization which has outlived its uselessness, imprisoned tens of thousand of non-violent drug offenders all over the world, and all we get is a big price tag to incarcerate their prey.

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  • Display: Sort:
    As Much As I Dsilike What They Do... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 09:02:53 AM EST
    ...their crimes are essentially legal where they committed them.  And I don't believe this would be a blip on the radar here with non-prositutes.

    Some of it is unrelated, so it's hard to comment on every allegation, so mine are related to the prostitution ones only.

    Unrelated, but interesting from Wiki:

    In 2001, It was estimated that there are 35,000 children working as prostitutes in Colombia.

    A series of factors put children at risk for sexual exploitation in Colombia and leave them unprotected. The war and the drug trade have altered family structures that in ordinary times would have provided safety and nurture. The war has also caused the displacement of countless families, some of whose children have been soldiers in the war. Displaced children are particularly vulnerable to being forced into prostitution, even more so in the declining economy.

    So when exactly will the DEA be standing trial for putting kids at risk of being exploited.  Which to me is infinitely worse than people engaging in a legal activities.

    Maybe these... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 08:57:04 AM EST
    salaciously sexual cases of misconduct will succeed in reigning in the DEA monster, where logic and reason have failed.

    I figured you'd be happy they (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 09:11:28 AM EST
    were busy not doing their jobs.

    That is the bright side:) (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 09:14:42 AM EST
    If we must employ these people, I'd rather they chase skirts than drugs and collars...yes.

    Too much to read & absorb here, (none / 0) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 28, 2015 at 12:14:13 AM EST
    but, I do have one comment I'd like to make.

    Call me a prude, unrealistic, or, overly sensitive. But, I cannot get the idea of slobbering drunk Secret Service agents driving around in their cars, and smashing into obstacles while being charged with one of the most vitally important responsibilities a Government employee can have.

    In my lifetime alone, J.F.K. was assassinated, Reagan was shot, and critically wounded, while G. Ford was shot at, but, thankfully, was not hit.

    Having gone through drills in driving a car & piloting an airplane having consumed as little as one shot of vodka I know too well the effect that one shot can have on a person's reflexes and reaction skills & times. So, I want to be careful in suggesting an appropriate punishment  I would bestow on SS agents who behave as indicated above.

    In thinking about it I get so mad I can hardly see straight. So, I'll just take a deep breath, and move on to another subject.

    Just, please tell me those incompetent fools didn't shirk their sworn duties in protecting our President from the many would-be killers out there because of his race. I have been in business a long time, and have spent a considerable amount of time in security and related matters. But, I have to tell you; I have NEVER seen dereliction of duty this blatant, and, in a situation so vital to our National Security, as these serial bunglers have shown us.

    Many 100 reports (none / 0) (#5)
    by thomas rogan on Sun Mar 29, 2015 at 12:47:57 AM EST
    You could have written one hundred page reports about the sexcapades of JFK and William Jefferson Clinton, among many others.  So law enforcement and drug enforcement people do the same.  And I don't see a clear idea of a denominator, so I don't know the incidence per staff member day or whatever unit you want.

    Silly comparison (none / 0) (#6)
    by Yman on Sun Mar 29, 2015 at 09:46:23 AM EST
    They're not remotely the same.