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A toiletries and gas coupon spree cost an Incirlik airman his rank.

Senior Airman Justin Elander was convicted of black marketing during a recent summary court-martial, the Air Force announced Friday. Elander was reduced in rank from staff sergeant, restricted to base for 60 days and verbally reprimanded for buying $2,600 worth of toiletries and gas coupons for a group of Turks.

The Turks demanded that Elander buy the goods after giving him a ride to Ankara.

“He took toothpaste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, stuff like that,” said Capt. Rickardo Bodden, a base spokesman. “And it was done in a one-day time span.”

Lt. Col. Antoinette Kemper, 39th Air Base Wing director of staff and summary court officer, said in a news release that the volume of the purchase was what tipped off the Ankara exchange.

“This sent up red flags to the store managers,” Kemper said.

Capt. Mechel Campbell, 39th Air Base Wing legal office military justice chief, said in the news release that the purchase was payment for the lift and the fuel it took to get there.

“Upon arriving in Ankara, these ‘friends’ informed him that in exchange for the ride and for paying for the gas, the airman needed to do them a few favors,” Campbell said. “They paid for the gas, but his ‘friends’ asked for a lot in return.”

Black marketing in Turkey is defined by the legal office as “any giving, selling or transferring of any item to a Turkish national (or anyone else not entitled to duty-free goods) that was not was purchased on the Turkish economy.”

Even passing on used clothing, a pack of cigarettes or a can of coffee is considered black marketing.

“Even good people make bad decisions,” Kemper said. “However, there can’t be leniency when our people contribute to illegal activity. Black marketing is a serious crime ...

“Black marketing jeopardizes our entitlements as military members. It also strains relations with our host nation. They understandably take this crime very seriously.”


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