Two more Camp Pendleton Marines and a sailor arrested in human smuggling, drug probe
Three more Camp Pendleton-based service members — two Marines and a sailor — have been arrested, bringing to 19 the total arrests in a sweeping human smuggling and drug probe, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said Friday.
Jeff Houston, an NCIS spokesman, said the two Marines are attached to the same unit — 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment — as the 16 Marines arrested at morning formation Thursday. The sailor, Houston said, is a corpsman assigned to Camp Pendleton. NCIS has not named any of the 19 suspects.
None have been charged with a crime.
“Out of respect for the privacy of the implicated Marines, we will not release names or other identifying information until charges are announced,” Marine Maj. Kendra Motz said in a statement Friday.
A Marine official not authorized to comment on the case said Friday he expected charges to be filed early next week.
The 16 Marines were arrested Thursday morning during battalion formation on the parade deck in the San Mateo area of the base, said Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh.
“It was a public display for the entire unit to see,” he said.
The 16 Marines ranged in rank from private first class to corporal, or E-2 to E-4. Houston said he could not comment on the ranks of the two Marines and the sailor who were arrest later. All of the arrested service members are being held at the Camp Pendleton brig.
They are expected to be prosecuted in the military court system.
The Marine Corps said information from a previous human smuggling investigation led to the arrests. On July 3, two Marines — Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero — were arrested by Border Patrol agents for allegedly transporting unauthorized immigrants.
Border Patrol agents saw Law and Salazar-Quintero, both lance corporals, pull their vehicle off Interstate 8 around 10 a.m. near Jacumba Hot Springs and pick up three unauthorized immigrants, according to U.S. District Court documents.
When Border Patrol stopped the vehicle some time later, the three immigrants were in the back seat. Both allegedly spoke to federal agents after waiving their rights to an attorney.
According to the federal court complaint, both Marines said they worked with an unidentified recruiter who told them where to go. Both men blamed each other for getting him involved in the scheme, according to court documents.
They were arraigned in federal court in San Diego on July 8. Attorneys for Law and Salazar-Quintero declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Dyer writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. U-T staff reporter Alex Riggins contributed to this story.
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