Criminal Investigation Division
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
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18th Bde.

1 October When the 720th MP Battalion mobilized for duty in the Republic of South Vietnam at Fort Hood, Texas their TO&E strength was 21 officers, 4 warrant officers, and 567 enlisted personnel - including the seven-man Criminal Investigation Division (CID) cell.

        The CID cell consisted of four warrant officer CID agents, Ed Black, Gideon Epstein, Aaron Miller, and Romeo Garcia. There were also two enlisted agents, SP/7 John Baker and SP/6 Charles 'Chuck' Weatherington, and a clerk, SP/5 Thornton.

CID Cell reassigned from 720th to the 87th CID Detachment after arrival.
19 October The unit arrived at Long Binh Post, Bien Hoa Province, III Corps Tactical Zone, with the 720th MP Battalion. The CID cell then moved to Bien Hoa with an existing CID unit, the 87th CID Detachment CI Bien Hoa Office. The Headquarters, CID Group Provisional, was located in Saigon.

        The other units stationed at the Bien Hoa Office were the 173rd Airborne Brigade (separate), 87th Military Police CID Detachment, 252nd Military Police CID Detachment. The CID Detachment was commanded by CWO Henry Nishakawa.

        The unit was billeted in a two story building just outside the Bien Hoa Air Base main gate across the street from an Australian Hospital.

        The Bien Hoa military police discipline, law and order mission at that time was under the command of Major Bernard Friend, Provost Marshal. The 615th MP Company was tasked with the assignment, at times augmented by a platoon of MP's from the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

        The CID units primary jurisdiction was within the III Corps area however, they did have country-wide jurisdiction and responsibility to enforce the military laws involving personnel of all U.S. military branches and Allied Forces, except in the case of crimes committed within the confines of Air Force bases, Navy bases (including ships), and Allied forces’ compounds.

        A drug task force was organized by Garcia and Epstein, and in the first month of operation they opened ninety narcotics cases. They were also responsible for organizing and conducting the first massive joint U.S. Military and Vietnamese civilian narcotics raid in the Republic of Vietnam.

The First Joint Drug Operation, Bien Hoa

        The operation was planned with the cooperation and assistance of U.S. Aid Customs Advisor to Vietnamese Customs because under Vietnamese law (1966) possession and use of marijuana was not a criminal offense. The Vietnamese officials agreed to prosecute Vietnamese citizens under their law prescribing criminal penalties for transportation of opium.

        The target of the raid were two Vietnamese bars in which undercover purchases of drugs were made from two major suspects. Aerial photographs of the two establishments were taken by helicopter and the plan for simultaneous raids at each bar were finalized.

        Using the aerial photographs at the pre-raid briefing the assisting MP’s and CID agents were given their assignments. The raiding party consisted of a company of 720th MP’s, two commissioned officers to call the raids, and approximately twenty-five CID agents from other units throughout Vietnam. Off duty MP’s that worked Bien Hoa town patrol unit were used as a standby reaction force during the raid. Detainees from apprehensions at the raid sites were transported to the Bien Hoa MP Station in 2-1/2 ton trucks.

        Approximately eighty-five members of the U.S. Military were apprehended and brought in and charged with marijuana possession violations. The U.S. Aid Customs Advisor and Vietnamese National Police (Canh Sat) arrested the dealers, as well as the owners and employees at the two bars. The latter were charged with black marketing, mainly of illegal liquor obtained from the U.S. Military.

        The CID agents also changed the standard operating procedures at the existing Bien Hoa CID unit. Upon their arrival they were informed by the officer-in-charge (OIC) that the unit did not respond to nighttime calls. They soon changed that to become the first CID agents within the III Corps to answer nighttime calls.

3 November To facilitate better command, control and coordination, the 18th MP Brigade formed the 8th MP Group (Criminal Investigation) (Provisional) in Vietnam, consolidated all the separate CID sections, giving them full jurisdiction throughout all four Corps Tactical Zones, minus the Saigon Military District.
      State-side the the 8th MP Group, constituted 8 April 1967, was activated at Fort Reily, Kansas and deactivated a few months later on 18 December.
8th MP Group (CI)

24 August 1968 the Group was again activated, this time in Saigon, Vietnam subordinate to the 18th MP Brigade. The 8th MP Group (CI-Provisional) became the 8th MP Group (Regular Army) continuing the same mission until the end of U.S. combat participation when it was once again deactivated.


     "I never knew there was a connection between 8th MP Group (CI) and the 720th. 8th Group had a sub-element organized, I believe, OA 1 Jan 71, to conduct customs investigations and inspections countrywide. Our designation was 8th MP Group (CI) (Customs). We did postal inspections, customs checks for both incoming and departing service members, and outgoing HHG/HB (Household Goods/Hold Baggage) Inspections.

    According to a "In-Country Travel Authority" order I have for 16-17 Aug 71, it was "Joint Customs Group, Long Binh Area Customs Detachment, APO San Francisco 96491" and the detachment commander was CPT Lon L. Eilders.

     We would inspect and customs-clear shipments. Most folks carried their belongings to a central processing point, where we would inspect and then the goods would be crated for shipment on the spot. COL(P) and above, we would go to their quarters for the inspection and packing." (A)SGT (1SG Ret.) Christopher D. Albert.

September 1984 the 8th MP Group was reactivated as the 8th MP Brigade (provisional) in South Korea.

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