Officials want audit of vests sent to Asia

Feb. 13, 2013 at 1:14 PM
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GARDENA, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Local California officials say they want an investigation into whether shipping body armor to Cambodia broke laws and why the city was used as an intermediary.

Gardena city officials called for an audit after a published report said the Los Angeles County sheriff's office sent bulletproof vests to Cambodia packed inside Gardena police department vehicles being shipped to the Southeast Asian nation, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The shipment of the vests, which occurred about a decade ago, were not declared to customs officials as required by federal law, the Times reported during the weekend.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas requested an audit to find out if officials violated the law in shipping the vests.

Gardena Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Johnson said she wanted to know why the sheriff's office used Gardena to ship the vests.

The vests had ostensibly been sold to Gardena, but had never been claimed by the city before being shipped to Cambodia, the Times found in its investigation.

It is not unusual for U.S. law enforcement to donate used equipment to counterparts in foreign countries.

An investigation into the sale of the vests was conducted by the U.S. Customs Service in 2002, but no criminal charges were brought after customs agents concluded there was insufficient evidence to show anyone involved in the sale knew the relevant export laws.

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