Exclusive: Secret Service Bragged About Protecting Obama While Partying At Colombian Brothel

Apr 17, 2012 7:00am

ABC News’ Reena Ninan, Christine Romo and Mary Bruce Report:

CARTAGENA, Colombia — ABC News has learned exclusively that the Secret Service officials accused of misconduct in Colombia revealed their identities by boasting at a Cartagena brothel that they worked for President Obama.

Partying at the “Pley Club” eleven members of the president’s advance team allegedly bragged “we work for Obama” and “we’re here to protect him.”

The officials spent the night throwing back expensive whiskey and enlisting the services of the club’s prostitutes, according to a bouncer at the club and a police source.

Sources tell ABC News several of the men agreed to pay for, and received, services from the “highest category” prostitutes available at the club, who charge upwards of $200.

The men paid for the sexual services in advance but when it came time to settle the bill, there was a dispute over the charges.

The group became belligerent and the police were called. The argument between the officials and the bouncers from the club escalated and ultimately spilled onto the street, according to several eye witness accounts.

The police have since been directed by U.S. authorities not to comment on that night or the scandal surrounding the Secret Service, according to a senior police official in Cartagena.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia and the women who work at the Pley Club live on the premises.

The club, located on a dusty street in the industrial Bosque neighborhood, just blocks from the port, has a rough exterior but boasts plush “pley rooms” inside.

The Pley Club is a well-known brothel in this historic city. Some taxi drivers in the resort-town are paid a commission for recommending the club and its prostitutes to tourists.

Fresh questions have emerged surrounding the number of U.S. officials involved in the controversy and the scope of their misconduct.

Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, was briefed by the Secret Service for roughly 30 minutes Monday night about the men’s behavior.

Collins later said she was informed that there were about 11 agents involved in the misconduct in Colombia, and “twenty or twenty-one women foreign nationals” were brought to the Hotel Caribe, where the Americans were staying.

Like the police, the staff at the hotel have been instructed by their management not to comment on the men’s behavior. Workers at the hotel tell ABC News they have been told to say they were “off,” “on vacation,” or “working a different shift” when asked about what went on at the hotel.

The members of the Secret Service team, who were in Cartagena on assignment ahead of the president’s visit for the Summit of the Americas, were relieved of their duties and sent home last Friday, the same day Obama arrived.

In addition to the officials being investigated by the Secret Service, the Pentagon said Monday it was investigating as many of 20 members of the military who may have been involved in the partying as well.

The controversy surrounding the officials’ misconduct overshadowed the summit last weekend and local residents are questioning why the city put so many resources into the international event only to be left with a tarnished reputation.

“Cartagena didn’t benefit one cent from President Obama’s visit. All people remember are that the Secret Service agents slept with our prostitutes,” said a man who works in the neighborhood.

This post has been updated.

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