Drugs investigation at US air bases

Twelve American airmen from East Anglia's two USAF bases are at the centre of a suspected drug dealing allegations, it emerged today.

Twelve American airmen from East Anglia's two USAF bases are at the centre of a suspected drug dealing allegations, it emerged today.

Officials confirmed that the personnel from RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall were under investigation for the possession and distribution of marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy.

It is not known the quantities of drugs involved, but one national newspaper claimed today that “massive stashes” were sneaked onto military transport planes, which are not subject to customs checks, and passed on to British dealers.

The probe by the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations was launched last month following an alleged tip off from concerned airmen.

Airman 1st Class, Michael Hess, public relations officer for USAF Lakenheath, said the investigation, which was still ongoing, involved 11 men from Lakenheath, the UK's biggest American base, and one airman from RAF Mildenhall.

He added that two British civilians had been questioned and their details had been passed on to the police.

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“In September, the command was notified that these individuals were under investigation for allegedly using and distributing marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.”

“They are still under investigation, but this is a very serious incident for the air force and any drug incident is taken very seriously because we hold our airmen to the highest standards.”

“If they are found guilty, they will be prosecuted under UK law and possibly the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

“The highest penalty by us for using drugs is very serious at five years in prison and distribution can result in 15 years in prison,” he said.

Alleged drug dealing and possession is nothing new for RAF Lakenheath, which is the home of the 48th Fighter Wing and holds three combat ready F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons. In October 2002, 27 airmen were investigated for using and distributing ecstasy and marijuana and two men were court martialled.

The men involved in the latest air force drugs investigation are believed to be all of junior ranks and in their early to mid-20s. The Ministry of Defence and British police do not have jurisdiction on the bases.

Officials from RAF Mildenhall, home of the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, today referred media enquiries to their colleagues at Lakenheath.