• Sixteen Marines were arrested for allegedly assisting with smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. and drug charges at California’s Camp Pendleton after an extensive investigation.
  • To send a message about the magnitude of the charges, the accused Marines were arrested as they “gathered in formation with their battalion,” which is the 1st Marine Division.
  • The Marine Corps issued a press release that stated none of the arrested was tasked with securing the border.
  • The Marine Corps also said: “1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter.”
  • The statement continued: “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”
  • Weeks earlier, “two Marines were arrested by a Border Patrol agent on suspicion of transporting three Mexicans on the promise of money after they crossed illegally into the United States.”
  • Attorney and Retired Marine Lt. Col. Gary Barthel said the incident is a “kind of black eye for the Marine Corps,” yet it’s crucial for the military to “show criminal behavior will not be tolerated.”
  • Barthel said: “Obviously I think it looks bad whenever you have the military that is helping protect the border and then you’ve got military people smuggling.”
  • Barthel pointed to the fact that young troops could be vulnerable to the often large amounts of money that smugglers offer them to commit illegal activity.
  • Last year, the Marines and other troops were sent to the border to secure it “by installing razor wire on top of existing barriers;” however, troops aren’t allowed to arrest immigrants.
  • In a separate investigation, another eight Marines have been questioned about their possible connection to drug crimes.

Reference Links

  • AP: 16 Marines arrested in migrant smuggling investigation READ
  • Marine Times: 16 Camp Pendleton Marines arrested by NCIS for alleged human smuggling and drug offenses READ
  • The National Interest: 16 Marines Arrested After Being Tied to Smuggling of Undocumented Immigrants from Mexico READ
  • UPI: 16 Marines arrested on human smuggling, drug allegations in California READ

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