US drug enforcement head retires after sex scandal

US drug enforcement head retires after sex scandal
Michele Leonhart has been head of Drug Enforcement Administration since 2007.

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

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

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.

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.

Seven of 10 officers who were accused of taking part in the parties confessed and were disciplined.

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

The scandal prompted congressional hearings by irate lawmakers.

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

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