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DEA probed in wake of Secret Service investigation
Monday - 5/21/2012, 10:02pm EDT
By PETE YOST
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department inspector general's office was investigating possible misconduct by two or more Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Colombia unrelated to the Secret Service incident with prostitutes at a Cartagena hotel, federal officials said Monday.
The probe began based on information provided by the Secret Service, the DEA said. The agency is making its employees available to be interviewed by investigators with the office of the Justice Department inspector general, the DEA said.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement that she had been briefed about the involvement of two or more DEA agents on May 4 but was asked to withhold public comment until the agents could be taken out of Colombia and questioned.
"It's disturbing that we may be uncovering a troubling culture that spans more than one law enforcement agency," Collins said. "In addition to the Secret Service scandal, we now learn that at least two DEA agents apparently entertained female foreign national masseuses in the Cartagena apartment of one of the agents. The evidence uncovered thus far indicates that this likely was not just a one-time incident."
The DEA has permanent offices in Colombia. The Bogota-based DEA regional director, who oversees the Cartagena office, did not immediately return email or cellphone messages.
In the Secret Service probe, investigators have interviewed the Colombia prostitute at the center of the affair, Dania Londono Suarez. She said a dispute over payment led to the April 12 incident becoming public.
A dozen Secret Service officers and supervisors and 12 other U.S. military personnel have been implicated in the incident, which took place before President Barack Obama's visit to the Summit of the Americas. Eight people with the Secret Service, including two supervisors, have lost their jobs. The Secret Service is moving to permanently revoke the security clearance for one other employee, and three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia.
Associated Press writer Douglass K. Daniel contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)