Marines arrested on accusations ranging from human smuggling to drugs, officials say

27 Juillet, 2019, 00:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Several soldiers salute the flag at sunset during a military exercise. Army Marines and Air Force were represented at the ceremony

A USA official told CNN that Thursday's arrests are related to an incident that occurred earlier this month in which two Marines from Camp Pendleton were charged with transporting undocumented immigrants for financial gain.

Leaders with 1st Marine Division have been working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to carry out the arrests during a battalion-wide formation at Camp Pendleton, California, officials said in a news release.

The Marine Corps said in a news release that information gained after two Marines were arrested on human smuggling charges earlier this summer led to the arrests.

Sixteen US Marines were arrested on Thursday at their base in Southern California on suspicion of drug-related offences and the smuggling of undocumented migrants along the US-Mexico border, US military officials said. "An additional 8 Marines were taken aside to be questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today's arrests".

The Marines are being held in the Camp Pendleton brig.

Those arrested were taken into custody during a Battalion formation with 800 people at Camp Pendleton.

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The Marines said that none of the soldiers who were arrested on Thursday were part of the Department of Defense's troop deployment along the U.S. -Mexico border. Authorities said the base, cut by Interstate 5 leading to Los Angeles, sits along a well-traversed route used by migrant smugglers.

Thousands of USA troops have been sent to the Mexican border in recent months to provide "logistical and surveillance support" to Border Patrol, though they are not permitted to apprehend illegal border-crossers themselves.

The three immigrants apprehended from the back of Law's vehicle told Border Patrol agents that they had made arrangements to be smuggled into the United States and had been told via cellphone to get into Law's auto. Law and Lance Cpl. Law was driving while Salazar-Quintero was in the front passenger seat, according to a Marine account of the arrest.

The three men told the CPB agents "they are citizens of Mexico without any immigration documents that would allow them to enter or remain in the United States legally".

Earlier this month, two Camp Pendleton-based Marines were arrested and accused of transporting illegal immigrants for money, according to a federal complaint obtained by Fox 5.

CPB said Salazar-Quintero "admitted coming to Jacumba to pick up on four different occasions".

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