US firm in Iraq ignores smuggling, security risks for F-16s

F-16 Fighters
Photo of two F-16 fighters courtesy the Department of Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American company that was paid nearly $700 million to secure an Iraqi base for F-16 fighter jets turned a blind eye to alcohol smuggling, theft, security violations, and allegations of sex trafficking. It then terminated investigators who uncovered wrongdoing, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Documents and interviews with two former internal investigators and a half-dozen former or current Sallyport Global staff describe schemes at Iraq’s Balad Air Base that were major contract violations at best and, if proven, illegal.

The fired investigators say they uncovered evidence that Sallyport employees were involved in sex trafficking. Staff on base routinely flew smuggled alcohol onto the base in such high volumes that a plane once seesawed on the tarmac under the weight.

 

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DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press
LORI HINNANT, Associated Press