Two S. Koreans accused of using Army APOs to buy BB guns
Stars and Stripes March 11, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Two South Koreans who work for the Army in Daegu have been accused of using soldiers’ military mailing addresses to buy BB guns in ways that dodged customs and tax laws, South Korean authorities said Thursday.
As of Thursday evening, the incident remained under investigation, the South Koreans had not been charged and the soldiers were not under any type of restriction, said U.S. and South Korean officials.
The South Koreans wanted the mock weapons — which are not illegal — to use in survivalist games but the way they obtained them amounted to smuggling, South Korean customs officials contended.
The officials also said they want to question the four U.S. soldiers whose APO mailing addresses were used by the men in arranging to have the BB guns shipped to South Korea.
By using soldiers’ APO addresses, the weapons entered the country through the U.S. military postal system and thus evaded South Korean import, tax, and other legal requirements, officials said.
The mock weapons are authentic-looking replicas of actual firearms. Although they fire soft BBs, they are powerful enough to inflict severe injuries, the officials said.
The four soldiers are members of the 36th Signal Battalion at Camp Walker, said Gwen Smalls, a spokeswoman for their parent unit, the 1st Signal Brigade.
Daegu customs officials identified the two South Korean employees by their family names, Jin and Lee, both age 30. Each has worked in the same unit for about four years, said customs investigator Im Chae-jin.
According to Im, the pair brought into South Korea 25 mock weapons in nine shipments since September. The shipments had a total value of about $30,000.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command in South Korea is aiding customs officials in their investigation, Im said.
Im said the soldiers were young, junior enlisted personnel. Investigators believe the two South Koreans befriended them and asked to use their mailing addresses, Im said. Investigators do not believe the soldiers intended to break any law, he said.
Customs officials plan to question the soldiers next week, Im said, after which the case will be forwarded to the Daegu Prosecutor’s Office.
“Those soldiers are not under any type of restriction because it is still under investigation,” Smalls said. “Everything is pending.”
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.