- At least one of the agents is reported to have been found cavorting with Colombian prostitutes
- Several of the 12 men sent home are married
- The misconduct is believed to have occurred before the President’s arrival in Colombia for the Summit of Americas
- Hotel employee claimed that the men were drinking heavily prior to the incident
PUBLISHED: 23:04 EST, 13 April 2012 | UPDATED: 07:36 EST, 14 April 2012
A dozen Secret Service agents assigned to protect President Barack Obama at an international summit in Colombia have been sent home over allegations that at least one of them was found to be cavorting with prostitutes.
A source within the Secret Service has been quoted as saying at least one of the officers had been involved with prostitutes and there may have been a dispute over payment leading one of the prostitutes to go to the police, who alerted the State Department.
It is believed that none of the agents sent home were part of the Presidents protective detail and that two of those relieved of duty in Colombia were supervisors.
Barack Obama arrives to Rafael Nunez airport in Cartagena, Colombia, today where 12 of his secret service agents were sent home from for misconduct with prostitutes
Arrival: Mr Obama is met by a Colombian marching band as he disembarks from Air Force One
‘There have been allegations of misconduct made against Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Colombia prior to the President’s trip. Because of this, those personnel are being relieved of their assignments, returned to their place of duty, and are being replaced by other Secret Service personnel,’ confirmed Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan in a statement.
Another U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12.
The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes.
The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.
Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the Secret Service, told the Post that he had learned that 12 agents were involved, several of them married.
It is thought that the agents at the heart of the allegations were staying at Cartagena’s Hotel Caribe.
Reports from an anonymous hotel employee claimed that the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel around a week ago and that they were drinking heavily during their stay.
A number of the White House staff and traveling press corps were also staying at the hotel.
Although prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, the Secret Service is said to consider solicitation inappropriate behaviour for its agents.
The incident threatened to overshadow Obama’s economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment.
President Barack Obama (blue shirt) surrounded by Secret Service agents during a visit to the Port of Tampa, Florida on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia earlier today
Security: Police patrol the waters surrounding the convention centre in Cartagena where the Summit is held
It also rounded off an embarrassing week for Obama after Democratic party lobbyist Hilary Rosen’s controversial comments about Mitt Romney’s wife Anne.
The White House attempted to distance itself from the lesbian who said Mrs Romney ‘never worked a day in her life’ and had no clue about issues faced by women who work.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying, ‘The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously.’
‘These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip.” said Donovan of conference in the Colombian port city Obama and more than 30 world leaders are attending.
Donovan said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president’s arrival on Friday night.
Greeting: Mr Obama shakes hands with Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos at the start of the summit
Obama was attending a leaders’ dinner on Friday night at Cartagena’s historic Spanish fortress.
He was due to attend summit meetings with regional leaders on Saturday and Sunday.
Those involved had been sent back to their permanent place of duty and were being replaced by other agency personnel, Donovan said.
The matter was turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency’s internal affairs.