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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on September 26th, 2007 at 11:36 am

Camp Long PX Closes After Black Market Scandal

If you have ever wondered how much money is to be made black marketing items from a USFK PX this article should give you some idea:

Camp Long soldiers seeking anything beyond basic food and living products must now take one extra step before shopping — to catch a bus to Camp Eagle.

The remote installation’s Army and Air Force Exchange Service store closed Sept. 14, leaving the roughly 150 Camp Long-based soldiers waiting for an hourly shuttle bus to ride the seven miles to Eagle. [...]

Officials say the store hemorrhaged money until it bled to death: Total sales dropped from about $2.77 million in 2004 to about $2.17 million in 2005. Sales dropped again to about $1.61 million in 2006 and, as of Sept. 10, sales for 2007 were only about $172,000, according to AAFES officials.

That meant earnings of $584,145 in 2004; $229,897 in 2005; $66,181 in 2006; and a loss of $16,919 for this year as of Sept. 10.

Army Maj. Bruce Townley, installation commander for Long and Eagle, said the reason the store lost so much money was that authorities busted a major black-market ring there last year. [Jimmy Norris, Stars & Stripes]

Here is my prior posting on the Camp Long black marketing ring.

The Camp Long PX is a small PX and was able to make $2.77 million in sales in 2004 and then once the black marketing ring was caught and shut down sales dropped to $172,000 this year.  That is a difference of $2,598,000 dollars.  Just think how much money the larger PXs and especially the commissaries are bringing in for the black marketers?  The amounts of money being made is mind boggling.

Is it any wonder why the AAFES employees black market when there is this much money to be made?  Additionally the punishments if you are caught are so light the black marketers really have very little to lose and a whole lot to gain.  For example the manger of the Camp Long PX received a year in jail but since he has been black marketing for years he is most likely a millionaire now.  A store employee received only a 10 month suspended sentence.  Who knows how much money he saved up during his time black marketing.

Since General Bell took over there seems to be an increased effort to crackdown on the black marketing, but this does beg the question of why a crackdown did not come long ago especially when the black marketers are so easy to identify.  I think that is a can of worms nobody wants to open now.

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  • Mark
    6:25 am on September 26th, 2007 1

    I think if they check the books they would find similar cases from all of the smaller Exchanges throughout USFK, especially the Shopettes. I'm kinda glad that most of these shady little PX's in Area I have been closed over the past few years.

  • GI Korea
    8:48 am on September 26th, 2007 2

    I can remember waiting outside the front gate of Camp Stanley for a local taxi to come and sitting there watching soldiers carrying bags of goods from the PX and commissary and getting into vans driven by Koreans.

    I called CID about this and told them they should sit outside the Camp Stanley front gate and just watch what goes on. I was told that just because the GI gets in the van that doesn't mean he is black marketing. What the heck else is he doing getting in a van with a bunch of goods from the PX and commissary then? You would think they could at least follow the van and see where it goes or try to identify who is the van driver and see if they are linked to any black marketing rings.

    I'm glad something is finally being done about the black marketing but even when I was back in Korea this past June I could still see the black marketers in action on Camp Stanley so there is still a long ways to go.

  • Cloying Odor
    11:27 am on September 26th, 2007 3

    AAFES managers get bonuses for meeting sales targets. They have every reason to promote and assist the black market. I can stand at the main px at Cp. Casey long enough to finsh a Double Stacker and a coke and see at least 15 completley obvious BM incidents taking place, and if you come back after lunch you will see it again with the same people. The USFK law enforcement would rather not be bothered dealing with the problem because the Koreans are never held accountable unless the Customs Officials can get a sizable chunck of loot out of the deal. The total amount of US taxpayer money spent shipping goods over here for the Koreans to black market over the past 50 years probably exceeds all the money we have ever spent in Iraq, yet no one cares. no one.

    Why is that? Just how dirty are the USFK officials?

    Things to think about.

  • Sometimes They are Clowns at ROK Drop
    5:55 am on September 27th, 2007 4

    [...] His decorations include: Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, Navy active duty Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal with bronze star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Sea Service with Bronze star.  [HT: Marcus] [...]

  • mcnut
    12:57 pm on September 26th, 2007 5

    yeap since most shoppettes are open extended hours say 7am until 10 pm the koreans rotate each shoppette on yongsan probably 2-3 times a day

    as you mentioned at casey its the same in yongsan you can see the same chics buying crap everyday at a any of the numerous shoppettes on yongsan

    and as mentioned above its always the same chics everyday

    but the staff selling them could very well report it but why

    maybe they are taking stuff off the shelves to?

    in reality lets face it if the cp long PX could only muster $172,000

    post black market sting and pre-black market sting was bringing in millions

    what the hell do you think aafes will prefer?

    they are in it to make money

  • mcnut
    1:05 pm on September 26th, 2007 6

    GI i agree with you but certain times i am not able to go all the way home to drop off a few bags of groceries my wife will pull her car outside the gate nearest our place and i carry them out

    i always think the same think you did however about people seeing me and saying there goes another guy black marketing

  • Marcus Atrocious
    1:14 pm on September 26th, 2007 7

    The installation commander–Major Bruce Townley–is a graduate of Clown College.

    http://area3.korea.army.mil/hqcmd.html

    Probably in no way related to the PX going under… but amusing nonetheless.

  • Mark
    1:17 pm on September 26th, 2007 8

    :LOL:

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    2:32 pm on September 26th, 2007 9

    Marcus,

    That is really funny. I have to do a posting on this one. Thanks.

    mcnut,

    In the particular incidents I have seen it always involved a young male GI carrying multiple bags of stuff getting into a vehicle with a Korean man driving. Highly suspicious and that is why I say why doesn't CID follow them and see if they are going to the black market downtown or not?

  • foflappy
    2:59 pm on September 26th, 2007 10

    I was in Namdaemun market just the other day. I've been here 11 years, always as a teacher, and it never ceases to amaze me just HOW MUCH USFK STUFF IS AVAILABLE. Underground areas that go on and on and on and on. My bro works for DOD here and only expressed outrage when he could not get prenatal vitamins for his pregnant wife because of the ajjumas buying all of the stock. Really, I think a concerted effort could do something about this. I'm not a rube by any means, BM happens…but to this extent? Perhaps I am just a rube. Concerned reader.

    PS. Perhaps the F.Trade agreement with the U.S. might take away some of the incentive.

  • Richardson
    7:59 pm on September 26th, 2007 11

    Could at least part of the drop in overall sales be attributed to a reduction in force (i.e., genuine customers) for the area?

  • Richardson
    8:04 pm on September 26th, 2007 12

    I was going to ask what's wrong with Lincoln Univ., but then I read a bit further;

    MAJ Townley [received] a Bachelor of Fun Arts from Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

    My question is; why would he go there, and more importantly, why the hell would he include it on his online resume of sorts?

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:08 pm on September 26th, 2007 13

    Richardson,

    Camp Long didn't have any force reduction that I know of. I think it would be really interesting to see what the sales figures were for the PXs on the smaller camps that were closed out and compare them to Camp Long's figures.

    foflappy,

    Most of us that have lived in Korea for awhile find the black marketing shocking as well. What would piss me off was when the meat would disappear so quickly from the commissaries because the same black marketing ajummas would know when the meat was coming in and purchase it all before soldiers could get off work to buy anything.

    I'm glad somebody is at least doing something about it now but I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

    The free trade agreement is not a full free trade agreement plus we have already seen how such an agreement would be implemented by the Korean government with the way they have been blockading US beef from arriving in the country.

  • usinkorea
    1:23 am on September 27th, 2007 14

    Camp Long and Eagle were supposed to have gone the way of the Dodo bird themselves by now…….and Yongsan was supposed to….eh……whatever……

  • Tim
    1:53 am on September 27th, 2007 15

    What everyone here has overlooked is the fact that USFK has profited by these blackmarket sales for a VERY LONG time. How you ask? Where do the profits from sales from the commissaries and PX's in Korea supposedly go? MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation). That's how they can keep building all these new clubs and such (with their slot machines) to rake in more money from the Koreans who are not supposed to be gambling on base in the first place, but that's another story in and of itself. A vicious circle it is gentlemen!!!

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    1:53 am on September 27th, 2007 16

    Camps Long and Eagle will go as soon as Camp Humphreys is expanded and 2ID is moved. The helicopters on these camps support 2ID and will probably move when the rest of 2ID moves.

  • duh
    4:24 pm on September 27th, 2007 17

    Without the Koreans buying goods and services (legal or non-legal), a lot of the clubs, restaurants and shoppettes/commissaries would have to close. Quit bitchin'.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:53 pm on September 27th, 2007 18

    If USFK is going to allow black marketing than quit busting people for doing it than. If USFK is going to make a regulation than consistently enforce it. How fair is a regulation that is only selectively enforced?

    Plus should someone working at a small PX be making millions of dollars? The people at the PX don't work nearly as hard as soldiers serving in Korea, Iraq, and elsewhere who are not making easy millions.

    Allowing black marketing only adds to the perception of high level corruption in USFK.

  • Marcus Atrocious
    11:21 am on September 29th, 2007 19

    There are different types of illegal activity going on in these places–some which are sustainable and some that are not. The classic form of blackmarketing involves allowing SOFA-status and non-SOFA personnel to purchase goods for resale off post. This is the sustainable type of black marketing that USFK has turned a blind eye to for decades. The PX/Class VI/etc make their money on the transactions, the inventories and cash receipts balance, and everyone is happy. The loser is the Korean government, since these products are essentially being sold as duty-free goods. But nobody really cares–well, except for the GIs that can't find anything but ox tail, vitamins, and Mogen David wine for sale on post.

    The sustainable form of black marketing has been going on since MacArthur landed at Incheon. It's profitable and it could conceivably go on indefinitely.

    The unsustainable type is when you have the the blackmarketeers getting overly greedy and stealing inventory from the back store rooms. This is essentially killing the goose that keeps laying the golden eggs. This is just what happened at Camp Long. Not content just to sell goods for a small kick back, the greed set in and inventory began disappearing off the back loading ramp. Not real smart. Now the PX is closed and these idiots no longer have a source of illicit income. If they'd have been smart they would have just continued to sell the goods over the counter for a small "fee."

    But what can I say, most criminals just happen to be criminally stupid.

  • Bones
    11:20 am on October 1st, 2007 20

    Gentlemen that kind of BM is not worth CID's time you spend 200 in the commissary you might make 250-275….okay…..what's being sold is food not secrets…..if you will notice they get caught because they get greedy. 50 to 100 bucks is not a problem…but 100,000 bucks is and that's who get busted.

  • Mark
    12:37 pm on October 1st, 2007 21

    Here's one I sent up today. Honestly, I wouldn't have done anything because I know it's futile, but the pricks pissed me off by leaving their shopping carts helter-skelter in the parking lot so I had to play slalom driving around them.

    Who: Elderly Korean man and woman.

    What: Multiple trips into the PX to retrieve several shopping carts full of goods. One spouse would sit in the parking lot when the other went into the PX, then without saying a word to each other, one would come out about 15 minutes later with a shopping cart full of things as the other one would go into the PX, almost like a tag-team event. There were five abandoned shopping carts in the parking lot, although I only watched them enough times to witness them bringing out three shopping carts in such fashion. When their trunk was full, they started placing things into the backseat, and I noticed a 24-pack of Mountain Dew and large bags of rice in the backseat as well, presumably from the Stanley Commissary.

    I didn't see what was in the numerous white AAFES bags they brought out, but they brought out at least 3x each of the JVC DVD/VHS players featured on the cover of the 28SEP-04OCT AAFES sale flyer. These were clearly visible as they were in their original cardboard packaging with purple labeling.

    When: 30 1600-1730 SEP 07.

    Where: Camp Stanley PX gravel parking lot.

    Car: Late model silver-grey Lincoln sedan, SOFA license plate 16DA 6836.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    12:52 pm on October 1st, 2007 22

    Like I said before I have contacted CID about suspected black marketing and never does any good. You would still see the same people black marketing.

    What pissed me off most of all was when we would have a unit BBQ and would have to get a special memo signed off by the garrison commander to purchase a large amount of items from the commissary for the unit BBQ. However the black marketers like you just saw will buy even more stuff than what I would need for a unit BBQ and what's the odds they have a garrison commander memo allowing them to do it?

  • Mark
    1:30 pm on October 1st, 2007 23

    Actually, knowing how things work around here, they probably did have a memo…. ;)

  • GI Korea
    1:14 am on October 2nd, 2007 24

    LOL. :)

    You know what you are probably right.

  • Cloying Odor
    1:52 am on October 2nd, 2007 25

    Cp. Stanley is really bad when it comes to this stuff. The PX manager is involved in the operation. The vendors that are in the outside mall routinely hang out in the PX and purchase items with assistance from the manager and other store personel. The lack of any MP presence on the post contributes to this. If you have an hour and nothing to do, hang out in the gravel parking lot and just watch. It's an eye opener.

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    12:53 am on November 2nd, 2007 26

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    1:30 pm on June 17th, 2008 27

    [...] barriers on U.S. automobiles, and will end up severely restricting all U.S. beef imports not purchased by the trunkload at the South Post PX, for the subsequent re-sale in market stalls and kalbi restaurants across [...]

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