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SEOUL — Detective Lee Kil-moo had good timing two months ago when he became suspicious of a South Korean man he saw switching license plates near Camp Eagle in Wonju.

The sighting helped uncover a black market scam that realized an estimated $416,000 by illegally moving more than 4,500 cases of beer and 1,200 cases of liquor to Seoul’s Namdaemun Market and Kangnam-area bars, said the detective at the Tongdaemun Police Station.

The man charged had fake USFK license plates, Lee said, adding that other people were involved in the scam, which operated since June. The detective declined to say whether base personnel are under investigation.

Later this week, the detective said, police will forward an illegal transportation charge to Seoul prosecutors against the 33-year-old man identified only by his last name, Kim.

According to an affidavit Kim wrote, he would drive to Camp Eagle, where someone would sign him on base. He wrote that he would load the liquor into a 2.5-ton truck, drive it off base and replace the fake base plates with South Korean license plates.

Kim drove the truck to a storage place in Wonju, where he would meet another person who would resell the liquor in Seoul and within Kyonggi Province, the affidavit stated. This procedure was repeated about 50 times, according to the affidavit.

Kim could face further tariff evasion charges by South Korean customs police, Lee said.

About 4,860 cases of beer and some Chivas Regal scotch were seized from a Wonju warehouse, Lee said.

AAFES officials were unavailable for comment before this report was filed.

— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.


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