9 Arrested in Scheme to Sell Stolen Combat Gear
By Tony Perry
Times Staff Writer
3:40 PM PST, February 22, 2006
SAN DIEGO — Nine people, among them Marines at Camp Pendleton, have been arrested in an alleged scheme to steal combat gear, including flak vests and helmets, meant for troops in Iraq and sell it on e-Bay, officials in San Diego and Philadelphia announced today.
More arrests are expected. Some suspects are deployed in Iraq, said officials, who declined to specify how many Marines were involved.
The Marines will be tried by the military; the civilians in federal court.
A dozen Marines and civilian workers stationed at Camp Pendleton are suspected of being part of the ring that stole three fragmentation vests, seven Kevlar helmets, 104 protective plates, 14 outer-tactical vests, 74 M-16 magazines, two gas masks and 100,766 Iraqi dinars.
Value of the gear was set at more than $63,100. Protective plates fit inside vests to stop high-velocity bullets. None of the gear is supposed to be sold to civilians, officials said.
"At a time when our troops in Iraq need all the body armor they can get, it is extremely troubling to see bulletproof vests destined for those troops being stolen from our military bases at home for resale to the public," said Julie L. Meyers, the Department of Homeland Security's assistant secretary for U.S. immigration and customs enforcement.
A resident of Vista in northern San Diego County was sentenced today in Philadelphia to six months in prison. Investigators spotted Erika Jardine on the Internet offering to sell military gear. Posing as international arms dealers, they contacted her and made several buys, according to an indictment unsealed today.
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times