AAFES fires three accused in Camp Humphreys beer-smuggling scheme
Stars and Stripes June 6, 2007
SEOUL — Three of five AAFES employees authorities say were involved in smuggling 140 cases of beer out of Camp Humphreys, South Korea, in January have been fired, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service spokesman said Monday.
The case, the third major black-marketing scheme busted at AAFES this year, came after another AAFES official observed suspicious activity and initiated an investigation, according to AAFES spokesman Master Sgt. Donovan Potter.
A fourth person said to be involved in the alcohol-smuggling scheme has retired, and a fifth was suspended for two weeks because there was not enough evidence to fire him, Potter stated in an e-mail from his Okinawa headquarters.
According to a police blotter listing in Friday’s edition of The Morning Calm Weekly, the U.S. Forces Korea newspaper, one person “removed various brands of liquor, valued at $14,689.48 over a six-month period,” admitted to the theft and “rendered partial payment of $10,997.19.”
A Pyeongtaek customs official said last week that police worked the case with the U.S. military for months before deciding it was a customs matter. Police officials recently turned the case over to customs, the official said, and his office is just beginning its investigation.
According to a Monday statement from AAFES head spokesman Lt. Col. Dean Thurmond, AAFES is working to stop black marketing with other law enforcement agencies, including the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Korean Customs Service and U.S. Forces Korea J1. “These efforts are about doing the right thing, not the bottom line,” he said. “As a military command and a guest in Korea, AAFES is dedicated to strengthening relationships with local law enforcement agencies to eliminate illegal business practices.”
In late March, South Korean police confirmed they were investigating 18 people, including two American base personnel and two AAFES employees, for smuggling beer and food off Camp Market and selling it on the black market. The group reportedly managed to move about 25,000 cases of beer and 633 tons of expired food by manipulating the tracking system and falsifying documents. In January, two AAFES employees were convicted of taking about 21,000 cases of beer from Camp Long.