Sacked US Consular Official in Guyana in Hot Seat Over Allegations of Sex for Visas and Money
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | July 9, 2013 11:48 AM EST
A U.S. consular official posted in Guyana has been sacked following allegations he had been selling visas for sex and money in what was believed to be a massive human trafficking operation. The U.S. State Department has confirmed it is now currently investigating the claims.
The official, identified by local media in Guyana as Edy Zohar Rodrigues Duran of Mission, Texas, has since returned to the U.S. after being removed from his post at the Guyanese capital of Georgetown three weeks ago. His original tour of duty departure schedule was still supposed to be on September.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it is investigating a consular official of alleged "improprieties," following reports he was trading visas for money and possibly sex.
"The department takes all allegations of misconduct by employees seriously," Fox News quoted an unidentified spokeswoman.
"We are reviewing the matter thoroughly. If the allegations are substantiated, we will work with the relevant authorities to hold anyone involved accountable."
The scandal erupted when executives and tourists protested their visa applications were being held up. It was at this time that allegations against Mr Duran came up. The Guyana Observer News reported Mr Duran has been "accused of selling visas to many corrupt businessmen [and] drug dealers ... for as low as US$15,000."
"The Feds have not stumbled on concrete evidence on the issue of money for visas, but sufficient evidence on the sex for visas."
Mr Duran has been reported to be frequenting hangouts for drug lords, such as casinos and bar restaurants, while still in Guyana.
Mark Benschop, publisher of the Guyana Observer, dropped the name of Hibiscus Restaurant, a known hangout for drug lords, as Mr Duran's favored rendezvous.
"The Hibiscus was Duran's main meeting place. There are others he would frequent, but the Hibiscus was an almost daily call," Mr Benschop told The Daily Caller.
In a separate interview with Fox News, Mr Benschop surmised Mr Duran could "either be part either part of a scam or manipulated into getting involved."
Mr Duran was alleged to sometimes charge as high as $40,000 for a visa. Mr Benschop thinks, however, that the former splits the money with other potential cohorts.
The State Department began its investigations on Mr Duran in February. He left Georgetown in June. Although it is not clear if he was fired or just placed on administrative leave within the State Department, a dating profile unearthed by the Daily Caller showed that in a June 23, 2013 profile that Mr Duran created, he claimed he is looking for work in Falls Church.
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