JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — An investigation conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service finds that Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune sold $2 million in stolen combat equipment online to gangs in the U.S. and other foreign countries, including China and Russia.
The Jacksonville Daily News reports that the two-year undercover investigation implicated nearly 60 people.
“The case is still active and ongoing in partnership with several other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” Ed Buice, public affairs officer for NCIS in Quantico, told the Daily News. “I can’t go into much detail.”
Buice said the Marines were selling the stolen equipment on websites such as eBay, Craigslist and Lejeune Yard Sales. Investigators first got wind of it from tip into the NCIS Carolinas Field Office.
“NCIS did an in-depth analysis of the cases and saw there was definitely a growing problem,” Buice told the Daily News. “Undercover agents have worked extensively to build cases against those involved during the last two years.”
Stars and Stripes reports that $1.8 million in stolen guns and combat gear has so far been recovered.
“We’re talking about sophisticated, hi-tech flashlights that cost the government up to $800 per unit,” an official told Stars and Stripes. “The temptation and ease with which to steal and sell them, for some, is irresistible.”
So far, 47 Marines and sailors and 21 civilians are being prosecuted.