While prostitution is legal in much of Colombia, sex with minors is not — and could lead to criminal charges.
Underage prostitution is rampant in the sinful seaside city, where finding illicit companionship is literally a walk on the beach.
Visitors to Cartagena, including the agents and U.S. servicemen embroiled in the salacious scandal, simply have to visit one of its seedy shorelines, where they will almost certainly be approached by a “fixer.”
“Anything you need, amigo,” said one such carnal concierge, Ramon Morales, who slyly eyed nighttime strollers. “Beer, cigarettes, girls. I can get you girls.”
Morales said the Americans on President Obama’s advance team made quite a splash before the scandal broke.
“They were partying at the beach,” said Morales, 34, with a grin that was missing several teeth. “They were having a good time with the girls, drinking.”
Morales said extra ladies were ordered up like room service when those at the Pley Club weren’t enough to meet the Americans’ demands.
“They were tall and strong,” said Morales, 34. “Lots of muscle. We got a few cab drivers to bring them girls.”
Hookers can also be easily found in bars or clubs, sometimes with the establishment getting a cut of the john’s fee.
“There are many ways to find us,” said one woman, 21-year-old Rebecca, who worked at Angeles, a dingy bar in the city’s El Bosque neighborhood.
“The guys have to pay a fee to take us out of the bar,” she said. “We feel pretty safe.”
Hotel staffers also almost always turn a blind eye to the hookers that parade up to guests’ rooms.
“Americans are shocked that these guys took girls into their rooms, even if it’s fancy like Hotel Caribe,” said a Cartagena cop patrolling outside the hotel. “This is every day here.”
“There are so many ways to getting girls into the room,” said Alejandra, 24, who works at the Dolce Vita Hotel. “Some of us walk the beach at nights to meet guys. Or the cabs call us. The tourists come here for us.”
The Latin American summit, which drew dozens of world leaders and their entourages, was a particularly good time for business, according to sex workers.
“When the city has big events, they (the pimps) bring girls in buses to the city so they can walk around,” said Morales. “That way the town looks better, sexier. These (guys) knew that we could get them girls.”
Meanwhile, the Secret Service’s South American supervisor personally made the decision to aggressively pursue her agents’ egregious behavior, The Washington Post reported.
Paula Reid, an African-American woman, had to overcome a white male-dominated agency culture to ascend to her post.
“If every boss was Paula Reid, the Secret Service would never have a problem,” a former agent told the paper. “It would be a lot more boring, but never a problem.”