16 Marines Arrested For Human Smuggling, Drug Offenses

Eight others were 'taken aside' for questioning to determine their involvement.

A photo of the U.S. flag flying at Camp Pendleton, California.
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Eight others were 'taken aside' for questioning to determine their involvement.

Sixteen Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, were gathered into battalion formation on Thursday and arrested on alleged human smuggling and drug charges, according to CNN.

“Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests,” U.S. Marine Corps officials said in a statement. “None of the Marines arrested or detained for questioning served in support of the Southwest Border Support mission.”

Eight others were “taken aside” for questioning to determine their involvement in alleged drug offenses.

The roundup is connected to two Camp Pendleton-based Marines who were arrested earlier this month and stand accused of transporting illegal immigrants for money, according to CNN.

The Marines, Byron Darnell Law II, and David Javier Salazar-Quintero, were arrested July 3 in San Diego County. The pair faces one count of seeking monetary gain for moving immigrants into the country after they had crossed the border.

The two Marines were caught just north of the southern border with Mexico, about 20 miles east of the California port of entry. Two of the immigrants found in the vehicle with the Marines said that they were going to pay the men $8,000, with their end destinations being Los Angeles and New Jersey.

Law and Salazar-Quintero were charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

“1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with Naval Criminal Investigative Service on this matter,” read the statement. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”

Officials did not release the names of the Marines arrested on Thursday, and did not disclose additional details of the alleged offenses.

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Thursday’s mass arrests came from an NCIS investigation that pulled information from the phones of the two men.

The new arrests came days after a report emerged detailing rampant cocaine use among a Virginia-based Navy SEAL Team, which allegedly got away with using the substance by cheating drug tests.

The SEALs told investigators that they beat the testing program by switching tainted urine for clean urine — but said that the drug testing didn’t happen very often, according to Business Insider.

The Navy SEALs were also in the news after a platoon was sent home from Iraq after a Fourth of July party gone wrong. There were allegations of sexual misconduct among the troops and drinking while deployed, according to CBS News.