US DEA head re­tires af­ter sex scan­dal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The head of the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion is to re­tire, an of­fi­cial said Tues­day, fol­low­ing a scan­dal in­volv­ing drug agents at­tend­ing or­gies with car­tel- hired pros­ti­tutes abroad.

Michele Leon­hart, 59, head of the anti-drug traf­fick­ing law en­force­ment agency, is re­tir­ing in mid-May, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder said in a state­ment.

The DEA came un­der in­tense crit­i­cism fol­low­ing a Jus­tice Depart­ment re­port at the end of March that found agents at­tended or­gies with pros­ti­tutes they should have known were hired by a drug car­tel.

The sex par­ties re­port­edly took place in Colom­bia.

Agents at­tended the par­ties hosted at gov­ern­ment- leased head­quar­ters over the course of

sev­eral years, the re­port said.

Clash­ing with the Pres­i­dent

Some of Leon­hart's po­si­tions on drug en­force­ment had long been in con­flict with those of U.S. Pres­i­dent Obama.

But it seems the key fac­tor in her de­ci­sion to step down is man­age­ment of the pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal.

Seven agents who ad­mit­ted to the ac­cu­sa­tions were given sus­pen­sions of two to 10 days.

The re­port into the be­hav­ior of fed­eral agents was com­mis­sioned af­ter a scan­dal in the U.S. Se­cret Ser­vice saw agents there hire pros­ti­tutes in Carta­gena, Colom­bia ahead of a pres­i­den­tial visit.

The scan­dal prompted con­gres­sional hear­ings by irate law­mak­ers.

Leon­hart had also bro­ken with the White House on mari- juana pol­icy.

She was against moves by states like Colorado and Wash­ing­ton to le­gal­ize its use, even as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said they should be al­lowed to go for­ward, the New York Times said.

She also re­sisted a push to re­duce penal­ties for its use and dis­tri­bu­tion.

The Times said her re­tire­ment could ig­nite a con­gres­sional battle on who to nom­i­nate to take her place.

Some lib­eral Democrats are call­ing on Obama to name an ad­min­is­tra­tor who backs a change in pol­icy on mar­i­juana, but con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers are op­pos­ing such a move, the Times said.

Holder hailed Leon­hart's achieve­ments as a law en­forcer and her lead­er­ship of the DEA since 2007.

“As the

first woman ever

to reach the rank of Spe­cial Agent in Charge, she was a trail­blazer for equal­ity and an in­spi­ra­tion to count­less oth­ers,” Holder wrote.

Holder sent a note to the Jus­tice Depart­ment's 113,000 em­ploy­ees ear­lier this month re­mind­ing them not to con­sort with pros­ti­tutes.

Af­ter word broke of Leon­hart's res­ig­na­tion an­nounce­ment, some mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee wel­comed the news, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported.

“With the op­por­tu­nity now for fresh lead­er­ship, we are hope­ful that the DEA can re­store it­self to an agency of distinc­tion and ex­cel­lence,” said Chair­man Ja­son Chaf­fetz, a Repub­li­can from the west­ern state of Utah, and se­nior Demo­crat Eli­jah E. Cum­mings, who comes from the eastern state of Mary­land.

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