Black Gold Black Market

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Army Major Gregory Stopyra deployed twice to the Iraq war: first, as an assistant fire support officer in Ninewah during 2008-09 in the northern part of the country, and as a planner in southern Iraq in 2010-11.

He spoke of his tours with the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in this interview last May, including a nifty shell game he witnesses during his first deployment. Excerpts:

Our unit to the south of Mosul really started digging in and getting into that black marketing of the oil and how that was funding a lot of the insurgency.

That was really interesting what they were able to do. That was what we like to say as being the perfect storm of having the right people and the right time in the right place. I think there was a battalion commander down there [who was] a chemistry major. The battalion XO was a physicist…

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They had their own personal knowledge and what they did was utilize Explosive Ordnance Disposal equipment like a spectrometer or something and they actually determined if they  – – they knew what was happening.

Somehow along the way fuel trucks were coming up from down south in Baiji. It was pure diesel fuel or whatever it was when it left but when it arrived up to Mosul it would be of a lesser quality but it would still be the same quantity.

At some point it was being off-loaded and being diluted. Right around where they were, I forget the name of the town just south of Mosul, but there was an asphalt factory.

What they found was they would track these trucks and they would watch where they would stop on the roadside and some of these trucks would get diverted into this asphalt factory.

They would take off some of the good fuel and put in what was called naphtha and that had the same weight but the density was different…

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excerpts from the recent SIGAR Report:
(Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)

• $4.2 billion in appropriations and future estimates for fuel assets provided to the Afghan National Army (ANA) not supported by validated fuel requirements or actual consumption data and possibly overstated

Influential Afghan Official Arrested, $310,000 in Government Property Seized, and $825,000 Saved in Contract Costs
SIGAR investigators working out of the agency’s new base in Mazar-e-Sharif uncovered a large-scale fuel-theft scheme targeting U.S. military installations at Camp Jordania and Camp Marmal in Balkh Province.

Fuel is “liquid gold” in Afghanistan—easy to steal,easy to sell on the black market. Buyers of stolen fuel can be local gasoline stations, roadside vendors, U.S. contractors without access to military fuel depots, or Afghan insurgents.

--Former Contractor and Two Former U.S. Army Sergeants Plead Guilty to $200,000 Afghanistan Contract Fraud Scheme
--U.S. Contractor Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Smuggle $150,000
--Former U.S. State Department Contractor Arrested for Accepting a $30,000 Illegal Gratuity
--Former Employee of U.S. Company Arrested for Receiving More than $90,000 in Illegal Payments and Kickbacks
--U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Smuggling $1 Million
--U.S. Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty in Conspiracy to Steal More Than $1 Million in U.S. Military Fuel
--Former Army Contractor Pleads Guilty to Bribery
--U.S. Army Sergeant Charged with Smuggling $10,000
--Government Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft of U.S. Funds
--SIGAR Aggressively Refers Corrupt Contractors for Suspension and Debarment


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