Naval law enforcement investigators arrested 16 U.S. Marines in connection to human smuggling and drug-related charges. The arrests follow allegations of human smuggling made against two other Marines earlier this month.
Officials of the 1st Marine Division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) arrested 16 Marines assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, Thursday morning. The 16 are facing charges related to human smuggling and other drug-related offenses, according to a statement from officials at Camp Pendleton.
The new arrests follow the arrests of two other Camp Pendleton Marines earlier this month. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested the two Marines, Byron Darnell Law, II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero, on July 3 after they observed suspicious behavior near the border, Breitbart News reported. NCIS investigators followed up on information received during the first two arrests, leading to Thursday’s arrest of 16 Marines.
Law and Salazar-Quintero allegedly received money from a human smuggling organization to pick up migrants near the border and move them inland past Border Patrol checkpoints. The Mexican nationals being smuggled during the arrest told the Border Patrol agent they agreed to pay $8,000 for transit into the U.S., according to a criminal complaint. They listed their destinations as New Jersey and Los Angeles. All three identified Law as the driver of the smuggling vehicle, the complaint concludes.
Camp Pendleton officials also announced on Thursday that eight additional Marines are being taken aside to be questioned about their involvement in drug offenses that are not related to the charges being faced by the other 16 Marines.
Officials reported that none of the Marines who are arrested or being investigated are connected to the Department of Defense efforts to support the Southwest Border Support mission.