May 17 (UPI) — South Korea police say they have arrested seven suspects after intercepting High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles being illegally transferred out of a U.S. military base in 2016.
The international criminal investigation division of Seoul’s metropolitan police said Wednesday the suspects had already sold one of the vehicles to a movie prop maker for about $9,800, and the remaining two Humvees were en route to buyers in Sri Lanka and Mongolia when they were intercepted, Yonhap reported.
The suspects were looking to sell the other two Humvees to a domestic buyer for about $18,000-$27,000, but eventually decided to smuggle the military trucks out of the country.
The trucks are worth more on the market and range from $35,700 to $62,500 in value.
The theft of unassembled U.S. military vehicles is unprecedented in the country.
In past cases, crime rings have been charged with dismantling then reassembling military vehicles for profit.
One of the suspects identified as a 47-year-old U.S. military serviceman may have been responsible for falsifying information on the deployable Humvees. The suspect identified by his surname “Jeon” could have acquired a “material export certificate” from the head of his unit, which reclassified the military trucks as “out of service goods” to be taken out for disposal, Yonhap reported.
Police are still investigating the case and whether other military assets were stolen from U.S. bases.
The suspects used text-messaging services and sent pictures to make the first sale.
Police say the suspects made the Humvees look like disused equipment in order to smuggle them out of their locations.