Secret Service employees paid 9 of the 12 women involved in Colombia sex scandal, agency says

U.S. Secret Service personnel tied to last month’s night of heavy drinking, partying and sexual encounters in Cartagena, Colombia paid 9 of the 12 women they became involved with, officials said. None of the women was found to be connected to terrorist organizations or drug cartels.


The Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, where 135 U.S. Secret Service personnel stayed during President Obama’s trip last month. (MANUEL PEDRAZA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Agency investigators have interviewed 10 of the 12 women involved — who range in age from 20 to 39 — and plan to speak with the others soon as part of their ongoing probe.

In all, the Secret Service deployed 175 agents and officers to Colombia last month for President Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas. Of those, 135 employees stayed at the Hotel Caribe where the prostitution scandal unfolded, congressional officials said.

Two of the 12 employees implicated in the scandal were supervisory criminal investigators; three were snipers and another three were members of a Secret Service counterassault team. Their careers ranged in length from two years to 22 years, the congressional officials said.

Nine of the 12 employees successfully completed polygraph exams, but three employees refused to take them, including the supervisor whose decision not to pay a woman led hotel management and local police to alert U.S. Embassy officials to the misconduct, congressional officials said.

At least three congressional committees are tracking the unfolding scandal and the Department of Homeland Security inspector-general is also conducting a broader inquiry into how the agency responded to the misconduct.

“We’re going to use this as a base to operate from, but we’re also waiting for those statements from the women,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday night. “That will fill in a lot of the gaps.”

An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported the number of women who had been paid. The story has been corrected.

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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