Sixteen Marines at Camp Pendleton in California were arrested Thursday on charges of human smuggling and drug-related offenses.
Eight other Marines were questioned for involvement in unrelated drug offenses.
“Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
On July 3, Lance Cpl. Byron Law and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero were arrested after being pulled over by Border Patrol agents near a California port of entry, CNN reported. The agents found three illegal immigrants in the back seat of the Marines’ vehicle.
Two of the immigrants had planned to pay $8,000 in return for being smuggled into the United States, the report said.
Neither Law nor Salazar-Quintero confessed to his involvement and instead “began pointing fingers at one another,” CNN reported.
According to the Washington Examiner, Thursday’s arrests were the product of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation that acquired information from Law’s and Salazar-Quintero’s phones.
The Marine Corps’ statement said, “1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter.”
“Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process,” the statement continued.
The full Marine Corps statement is below:
— Alex Presha (@Alex_Presha) July 25, 2019
The Camp Pendleton arrests come on the heels of two other cases of military discipline.
As the Examiner reported, a team of Navy SEALs was sent home after “several members were reprimanded for drinking.”
In a Wednesday statement, U.S. Special Operations Command said that “the commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (in Iraq) ordered the early redeployment of a SEAL Team platoon to San Diego due to a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods.”
In addition, the Navy Times reported that, according to an internal investigation, “SEAL Team 10 special warfare operators snorted cocaine or spiked their booze with the banned substance, often defeating military drug tests.”
According to the report obtained by the Times, six operators were caught using cocaine in 2018.
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