BOGOTA— Colombia’s top policeman resigned from his post on Wednesday over allegations that he ran a male prostitution ring known locally as “the fellowship of the ring.”
Gen. Rodolfo Palomino’s resignation comes as Colombia struggles to build its institutions following decades of war with leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries, and drug traffickers who have occasionally infiltrated local political offices.
The general, who had served on Colombia’s National Police force for 38 years, insists he had nothing to do with a male prostitution ring. But he claimed that he resigned to protect the integrity of the office as the Inspector General investigates.
“People cannot come above institutions,” Palomino said in a press conference, flanked by his family and the top brass of the police.
“I cannot allow a situation where the director of the national police is under investigation, and where the transparency and honor of this office is put in doubt,” he said.
Colombia’s Inspector General announced on Tuesday a formal investigation into claims that Palomino ran a prostitution ring, where young policemen were allegedly coaxed into having sex with their male superiors in exchange for money and promotions.
Palomino is also under investigation for graft and for claims that he illegally spied on journalists who had published stories about the alleged prostitution ring.
Earlier this week Colombia’s vice minister for the interior also quit his job after a policeman leaked a video that raises questions about the politician’s possible links to the prostitution ring.
In the video, which was aired by Colombian radio station LaFM, vice minister Carlos Ferro is seen driving his car while he discusses plans to have sex with a cop at a local motel. But no reference to the prostitution ring is made and no money is seen trading hands.
Ferro, who was a senator when the leaked video was filmed, has refused to comment. The Inspector General has vowed to investigate allegations that senior police officers were also pimping young cops to members of Colombia’s congress.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.