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Pacific edition, Thursday, August 30, 2007

SEOUL — Customs officials at Incheon International Airport said Tuesday they investigated six U.S. servicemembers in early June for trying to bring counterfeit watches and purses into South Korea from China.

The servicemembers — a mix of men and women, officers and enlisted personnel — carried between 30 and 70 items each as they returned from a private trip to China, officials said during a phone interview.

A customs official contacted Monday said agents generally allow someone to bring one or two items into the country, because they believe the items are intended for personal use.

All six were questioned by customs investigators in the presence of U.S. military police and were charged with trademark law violations. They were fined at Incheon District Court, though court officials said they could not provide names because of privacy laws.

According to information previously released by U.S. Forces Korea, Maj. Brenda Suggars was fined 1 million won (about $1,110), and Sgt. 1st Class Malanie English was fined 500,000 won (about $550).

Information about the other four was unavailable on Tuesday. English and Suggars declined a Stripes request through an 8th Army spokesman to be interviewed.

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