Drugs bust at airbase

A MAJOR undercover probe into drug use at American air base has resulted in 27 servicemen being investigated for using and dealing in illegal substances.

A MAJOR undercover probe into drug use at American air base has resulted in 27 servicemen being investigated for using and dealing in illegal substances.

A joint operation was waged over four months by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Ministry of Defence Police, 48th Fighter Wing and 100th Security Forces into drug taking and dealing at RAF Lakenheath.

It has resulted in 27 United States Air Force personnel being investigated for either possessing or distributing marijuana and Ecstasy tablets.

USAF officials said the four-month investigation had "provided

Evidence" the servicemen might have been involved in the "use,

possession and distribution" of drugs.

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Although no charges have been filed, the airmen – who are aged between 19 and 30 – could be suspended from duty pending the inquiry. If convicted, they could face federal conviction or a punitive discharge from the USAF.

Senior Airman Jeff Ham, a spokesman for the air base, one of the biggest American fighter bases outside the USA, said last night intelligence gathering had started more than a year ago following a tip-off air base personnel were being supplied with the drugs.

He added: "The investigation was active for about a year prior to interviews on the prime suspects and the undercover operation lasted for about four months.

"The drugs were obtained from bars, nightclubs and from civilians within the surrounding community.

"No formal charges have been filed and the investigation will continue until all logical leads are exhausted and the case is transferred to the commander for action."

The airmen under investigation were assigned to the 48th Security Forces Squadron, 48th Communications Squadron, 48th Medical Support Squadron, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron and the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

It is not known if any more of the 5,000-plus USAF active duty members who are posted at RAF Lakenheath will be implicated as a result of the investigation.

Snr Amn Ham could not say when the investigations into the 27 airmen would be completed, but added such investigations by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations were not uncommon in American air bases around the world.

He said the USAF had a "zero tolerance" attitude to drug abuse and all military personnel were regularly reminded of this.

"The air force policy on drug use is zero tolerance. It has been and will continue to be and by conducting operations like this, we can stem problems such as this," added Snr Amn Ham.

"There are a number of educational programmes aimed at informing airmen to the dangers and consequences of using and abusing drugs.

"One of the reasons this investigation happened is because of the diligence and commitment to that zero tolerance policy."

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