Three Marine officers are facing disciplinary action following a night of debauchery in February with Colombian prostitutes in Bogotá.
The married men found themselves under investigation, the Miami Herald reports, after they went drinking with some local women, were slipped illicit drugs, robbed of U.S. property and landed in a local hospital emergency room.
A report conducted by Marine Corps Forces, South, a Southern Command subsidiary, and obtained by the Miami Herald, recommends that Marine Col. Roger T. McDuffie, a Harrier pilot serving as the chief of operations at MARFORSOUTH; Maj. Andrew L. Mueller described as a theater security cooperation planner; and Maj. Mauricio Saenz, exercise planner, face “appropriate administrative or judicial proceedings.”
The report describes how the married officers went to an off-limits neighborhood of Bogotá and later returned to their hotel rooms after curfew with four local women. McDuffie and Mueller, according to the newspaper’s report, were drugged and passed out in their rooms. Several of their belongings were stolen, including a work laptop, other government-issued equipment, and personal cell phones, the Miami Herald reports. According to the Miami Herald, Saenz was not drugged, but like the other two officers — he drank and cavorted with the women.
Marine Col. Michael Farrell, the MARFORSOUTH chief of staff wrote the report for Marine Brig. Gen. Kevin Iiams, who was the commander at the time of the incident but left the decision on what action to take to Marine Major Gen. David Bellon, who replaced Iiams on Monday.
The Miami Herald cites Farrell’s report writing two of the officers blacked out in their rooms, apparently in the company of two local women, while another officer drew cash advances off his U.S. Government Travel Card (GTC) and brought two prostitutes to his room. Some of the Feb. 3-4 activity was captured on hotel security cameras. The three officers walked four women through the hotel lobby at about 4:30 a.m., past fellow Marine officers who were mustering for a van ride to the airport at the end of the conference.
According to the Miami Herald, the report says that at the start of their trip the Marines were briefed on “the specific hazard associated with local nationals utilizing the drug scopolamine to incapacitate and rob their victims.” It also found that, while all members of the delegation had taken Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape or SERE training, Mueller had not taken Anti-Terrorism Level 1 training, a prerequisite for travel into Colombia.
The Corps tells the Marine Times it takes allegations of misconduct seriously.
“U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and has thoroughly investigated this incident,” Gunnery Sgt. Zachary Dyer, a spokesman for U.S. Marine Corps Forces South told the Times in an email. “The command investigation has been completed, and we are going through the process of adjudicating the incident. Marines are expected to uphold high standards of personal conduct and this command will appropriately address substantiated allegations of misconduct.”
“It is impossible to know at what point Col. McDuffie and Maj. Mueller were poisoned by their companions or when the drugs took effect,” Farrell wrote in the report. “It is indisputable however that Col. McDuffie and Maj. Mueller placed themselves in a situation that directly resulted in being drugged, robbed, hospitalized and the loss of U.S. government property.”
Farrell also notes, “The effects of this drug were magnified by a combination with the consumption of alcohol over an almost 11-hour period.”
The Miami Herald reports that although Saenz apparently never blacked out and wasn’t drugged, according to the report … he joined the other two as they “associated with women other than their spouses throughout the night, to include imbibing for a prolonged period of time, dancing with the women in public and being with them privately in their hotel rooms,” the investigation found. “This conduct is prejudicial to good order and discipline and constitutes conduct unbecoming an officer.”
“If they were court-martialed, they could be sentenced to a dismissal, which is equivalent to a dishonorable discharge,” said retired Marine Lt. Col. Guy Womack, a military defense attorney in Houston.
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