Sixteen marines were accused of offenses ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to a statement from the 1st Marine Division.
The Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton during battalion formation, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The soldiers, all ranked from private first class to corporal, were arrested after information was obtained from a previous human smuggling investigation, military officials told KNSD.
“It was a public display for the entire unit to see,” 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh, a 1st Marine Division spokesman, told the Union-Tribune.
On July 3, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Salazar-Quintero in eastern San Diego County, KNSD reported. According to the agents, three undocumented immigrants jumped into the Marines' car on an interstate highway just north of the Mexican border, the television station reported.
The Marines arrested were not named, but all were attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Edinburgh told The Sacramento Bee.
Edinburgh said the soldiers were in NCIS custody and will be prosecuted by the Marines, the Union-Tribune reported. Law and Salazar-Quintero will be prosecuted in federal court, the newspaper reported.
“1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter,” military officials said in a statement. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”
More than 42,000 active duty personnel work at Camp Pendleton, KNSD reported.