Does the DEA consider itself ABOVE the LAW ?


DEA Agents Caught Soliciting Prostitutes Rewarded With Light Punishments, Bonus Checks

from the saving-throw-on-‘integrity-check’-fails dept

At the end of September, Brad Heath and Meghan Hoyer of USA Today published a DEA disciplinary log they’d obtained through an FOIA request. The document was obviously misnamed, as it showed plenty of misconduct by DEA agents, but not much in the way of discipline.

Damning, yes, but apparently we still haven’t scraped the bottom of the DEA’s disciplinary barrel. The DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has released a new report on DEA misconduct — specifically dealing with the DEA agents who were caught soliciting prostitutes, engaging in “sex parties” and harassing local employees while working overseas.

None of the 14 agents involved lost their job. Two still remain at their overseas posts and the rest (with the exception of one retiree) are still working as agents or supervisory agents. Apparently, DEA misconduct pays pretty well. (h/t

Although none of the 14 individuals received promotions, we found that in 10 instances, 8 employees received bonuses, awards, or other favorable personnel actions, contrary to DEA policy.

The agency’s policy states that agents under investigation are not entitled to collect bonuses for three years after being disciplined for “serious misconduct.” Any agent seeking advancement/bonuses must be subjected to an “integrity check” by the DEA’s HR department to ensure they are not currently under investigation or subject to other disciplinary actions. If the agent fails to clear the “integrity check,” the information is passed on to the Chief Inspector, who has the power to override the three-year waiting period.

Exceptions were made. But the Inspector General’s office is damned if it can figure out why.

The eight employees who received awards were subjects in an ongoing OPR investigation in which the offenses involved integrity and/or sexual harassment issues, with some of the employees serving as supervisors and managers. In many instances, we could not determine the reason why exceptions were made and we were unable to determine when, or if, an integrity check was performed, the results of the integrity check, or the reason for the approval of the proposed personnel action, because the DEA was unable to provide the OIG with complete documentation.

IG Horowitz is very familiar with the DEA’s reluctance to provide documentation. He took his battle with the DEA and FBI over the release of pertinent information to Congress, sailing over the head of the DOJ. In a letter to a Congressional committee, Horowitz threatened these agencies’ budgets by pointing out to legislators that the DOJ components are not allowed to use their funding to thwart their oversight.

But the DEA may have a not-very-legitimate excuse for not handing over documents. It apparently doesn’t care much for recordkeeping, even when it involves a regional supervisor who “failed” to report his underlings’ hiring of prostitutes and brothel patronage.

The DEA also told us that it was unable to provide us with any documents that reflect when the counseling session occurred with the Regional Director, the DEA Administrator, and the Deputy Administrator, or what matters they discussed. Given the gravity of the allegations, and the importance of keeping records related to misconduct reviews, we are concerned that the DEA was unable to provide any written documentation confirming that the counseling occurred and the substance of the counseling.

This official — who was apparently given an undocumented tongue-lashing — landed a $12,000 bonus. This was his reward for covering up the misconduct of his agents.

A Supervisory Special Agent who did nothing to prevent “sex parties” with prostitutes from occurring at DEA offices (arranged by local law enforcement officials) was given three bonuses totalling $8,500 — all while still under investigation.

In the private sector, soliciting prostitutes while on the clock is a good way to get yourself fired. In the DEA, where integrity is a must — considering the constant temptation of money and drugs — it’s barely worth a two-week suspension. Most agents saw single-digit suspensions, while others only received “letters of caution.” And a regional director overseeing all of this received nothing but an alleged, completely undocumented verbal rebuke. At the DEA, the only thing better than the lack of serious discipline is the bonus checks agents receive while still under investigation.

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