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Colombia hookers not tied to cartels, terror group, Secret Service says

Prostitutes in Colombia who were paid for sex by Secret Service personnel last month days before President Barack Obama visited the South American country had no ties to drug cartels or terrorist organizations, a source with knowledge of the investigation tells NBC News. 

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the information was included in a 24-page written response from Secret Service officials to congressional committees investigating a recent prostitution scandal involving members of Obama’s advance security team.


As first reported earlier Wednesday by the Washington Post, the response indicated that bureau investigators have determined that nine of the 12 women who accompanied the Secret Service personnel to their rooms at the El Caribe hotel in Cartagena were paid for sex, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. The women were picked up at four different clubs, the source said. 

 

Investigators still are trying to interview two other women involved in the incident, which occurred prior to the Summit of the Americas on April 14-15, the source said. 

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Seven of the Secret Service personnel at the center of the probe have resigned, one has been terminated and one has retired, NBC News has reported previously. Three others have been cleared of serious misconduct but given administrative punishment.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., issued a joint statement in response to the letter received late Tuesday from U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. 

"We appreciate the Secret Services' detailed responses to our questions,” it said. "Director Sullivan's cooperation with our oversight efforts underscores his commitment to understand the extent of the problem and ensure that this unacceptable conduct does not occur again.” 

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The 12 Secret Service personnel at the center of the investigation were among 175 members of the service in Colombia during Obama’s visit. They were among 135 staying at the hotel El Caribe, the source said. 

The source also confirmed that bureau investigators are looking into a separate report by a Seattle-based investigative reporter that Secret Service personnel may have engaged in similar misconduct in El Salvador prior to a visit by Obama in 2011.  

According to the source, investigators looked through records from the trip, spoke to supervisors and gone through timelines, but so far have found no evidence of misconduct. They are also trying to talk to Chris Halsne, the reporter who wrote the story, but he was unwilling to divulge his sources, the source said. 

NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell contributed to this report.

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