Sixteen U.S. Marines were arrested Thursday at Camp Pendleton for a list of crimes that ranged from drug offenses to human smuggling.
Here’s what we know
The arrests took place “during a Battalion formation at Camp Pendleton, California,” the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton said in a news release Thursday. The Marines were “arrested for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses.”
According to the release, “[i]nformation gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests.”
According to statements from a U.S. official to CNN, these arrests are related to the arrests of two other Marines in early July. Marine Lance Cpls. Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero were arrested by a Customs and Border Patrol near the southern border with three illegal immigrants from Mexico in the back of their car.
After they were arrested, both men admitted to smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S. border on multiple trips, although each insisted that the operation had been the other’s idea. Two of the three Mexican nationals they were smuggling when they were caught told authorities that they had agreed to pay Law and Salazar-Quintero $8,000 to be smuggled into the country.
These two Marines were also based at Camp Pendleton. However, the news release did not specifically state that this specific incident was part of the investigation that led to the arrests.
In addition to the 16 who were arrested, eight other Marines were also “taken aside to be questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today’s arrests.” The Marines worked in conjunction with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on this case.