AAFES workers’ charges related to black market
SEOUL — Two South Korean AAFES employees were charged Wednesday in connection with a massive black-market operation that involved expired food and beer, according to Seoul prosecutors.
In late March, South Korean police confirmed they were investigating 18 people — including two American base personnel and two Army and Air Force Exchange Service employees — for smuggling 33,000 cases of beer and 425 tons of food into the off-base black market.
The prosecutor, Kim Yeon-gon, said Thursday that two AAFES employees — a 55-year-old “Mr. Yu” who had been held in pretrial confinement and another man — were charged with violating laws on waste management, customs and food hygiene.
Yu was employed at Camp Market, according to Kim.
Kim said additional investigations showed the suspects moved less beer than originally thought — about 25,000 cases — but more food — about 633 tons. Officials have said they’ve received no reports of illness but that the expired products are “unsafe and potentially very dangerous.”
Officials said Yu — who worked waste disposal for AAFES — began selling the food in 2004 and the beer in 2005 and made more than $2 million on sales and evaded tariffs.
Investigators said the AAFES workers manipulated the tracking system by falsifying documents showing the goods were disposed of properly.
The case is the second major black-marketing scheme busted in less than four months.
In January, two AAFES employees were convicted of moving about 21,000 cases of beer from the U.S. Army’s Camp Long into the black market after a yearlong U.S.-South Korean investigation.
Kim Jong-hyuk, manager of Camp Long’s AAFES store, was sentenced to one year in prison. Cheong Bong-jung, a worker at the same store, was given a 10-month sentence that was suspended for two years. Prosecutors decided not to charge two other AAFES employees accused of playing minor roles.