Twelve Secret Service agents accompanying President Obama on a trip to Colombia have been relieved of duty and called back to the United States, reports said Saturday.
The agents were recalled after allegations of misconduct involving prostitutes in the coastal city of Cartagena, where Obama is attending the Summit of the Americas, the Washington Post first reported.
"There have been allegations of misconduct made against the Secret Service in Cartagena, Colombia, prior to the president's trip," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement, according to reports.
"Because of this, those personnel are being relieved of their assignments, returned to their place of duty, and are being replaced by other Secret Service personnel. The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously."
Donovan said the matter had been “turned over to our Office of Professional Responsibility, which serves as the agency's internal affairs component."
The White House directed inquiries into the matter to the Secret Service, media reports said.
While the Secret Service would not comment on the nature of the allegations prompting the recall of the agents, the Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the agency was aware of accusations that at least one agent was involved with prostitutes in Colombia.
The Secret Service said a new team of agents was in place to protect the president and that at no time was his security compromised.
Obama's security team has been involved in other embarrassing incidents.
Last August, a Secret Service agent was arrested for drunk driving in Iowa days ahead of a scheduled bus tour there by the president. That agent, Daniel Valencia, was off duty at the time.
President Obama is attending a weekend summit in Cartagena, along with 30 other heads of state from the Western Hemisphere. The world leaders will discuss efforts to boost trade ties and regional security links.