16 Marines arrested in California following human smuggling investigation

Sixteen Marines were arrested Thursday morning for their alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to U.S. Marine Corps officials.

The unidentified Marines served in support of the Southwest Border Support mission, USMC officials said.

“Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests,” said Maj. Kendra Motz, 1st Marine Division Communication Strategy Operations Director.

An additional eight Marines were taken aside to be questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to Thursday’s arrests, Motz said.

Those arrested were taken into custody during a Battalion formation at Camp Pendleton by 1st Marine Division worked alongside the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, officials said.

10News learned the Marines that were arrested have not been charged at this point in the investigation.

Border Patrol agents arrested Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero on July 3 near the Tecate Port of Entry, according to a federal complaint .

Both men are charged with smuggling “for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain,” the complaint said.

In the complaint, agents reported seeing three undocumented immigrants getting into the pair’s vehicle on Interstate 8 on the morning of July 3. The vehicle was pulled over a short time later and all five occupants were arrested.

The immigrants, according to the complaint, told agents that they paid $8,000 to have Law and Salazar-Quintero take them north.

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