By BOB EGELKO
San Francisco Chronicle
December 01, 2005
The thefts occurred between November 2003 and April 2005 and amounted to about $200,000 worth of merchandise, said U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan's office.
Prosecutors said the cargo handlers, after reading customs declarations that listed the contents and value of each package, removed the items and retaped the packages before sending them.
More than 570 military personnel and their families reported items missing from their shipments, prosecutors said. Common targets included digital cameras, DVD players and jewelry. About 60 percent of the packages were insured, said Luke Macaulay, a spokesman for Ryan.
The defendants worked for Aeroground, which handles cargo for a number of airlines. Authorities said the company cooperated with the investigation.
The 15 employees pleaded guilty during the past two weeks; a 16th defendant is believed to be in the Philippines, according to prosecutors.
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