WASHINGTON (AFP) – Members of a military detail assigned to US Vice-President Mike Pence have been removed from their White House duties following allegations they brought women to their hotel in Latin America, a defence official has said.
The incident occurred in the run-up to Pence’s recent tour of Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama although it was not clear where it happened.
Speaking to NBC News, US officials said there was no immediate suggestion the women were sex workers.
It is the latest scandal to hit US security officials on assignment in Latin America: in 2015, Drug Enforcement Agency officers were caught attending orgies with prostitutes in Colombia and three years earlier, Secret Service personnel working there were found to have hired sex-workers.
NBC News said Pence’s staff became aware of the issue when they saw security footage of the men, all high-ranking members of the forces, bringing the women into the secure area.
The women were not registered when they were brought in but “there is no indication at this point that the women who were brought to the hotel were prostitutes,” according to officials cited in the report.
“We are aware of the incident and it is currently under investigation,” Marine Corps Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a defense department spokesman, told AFP on Thursday.
“We can confirm that the individuals in question have been reassigned back to the army,” he added.
NBC said one of the service members was from the air force.
In 2015, the US Justice Department issued a stern warning to its employees saying they should not solicit prostitutes even if deployed in countries or regions where such behavior is legal or tolerated.
Eric Holder, then attorney general, said paying prostitutes “threatens the core mission” of the department because it can lead to extortion and blackmail and can support human trafficking.