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12 Camp Pendleton Marines arrested in July face charges in smuggling operation

This Nov. 13, 2013 file photo shows the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base at Camp Pendl
This Nov. 13, 2013, file photo shows the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
(Lenny Ignelzi / AP)

Twelve Marines remain in custody at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and are facing charges related to an alleged human smuggling operation, the Marine Corps said in a statement Monday.

On July 3, two Marine lance corporals — Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero — were arrested by Border Patrol for allegedly transporting unauthorized immigrants. Law and Salazar-Quintero are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton.

Law and Salazar-Quintero were charged in federal court with transportation of unauthorized immigrants for financial gain and with aiding and abetting. Both also face military prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to Marine Maj. Kendra Motz, a 1st Marine Division spokeswoman.

Three weeks later, on July 25, another 16 Marines were arrested during battalion formation in connection with the alleged smuggling operation and unspecified drug offenses. A Marine spokesman described the arrests as a “public display for the entire unit to see.”

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Two more Marines and a Navy corpsman were also arrested that day, according to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

In Monday’s statement, Motz said all but 12 of the Marines have been released, including the Navy corpsman.

“There are currently 12 Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in confinement at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton for alleged involvement in smuggling,” Motz said in an email. “The remaining Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who were questioned or detained have been released to their command. All personnel involved are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Further details about the charges the Marines face or the alleged smuggling operation were not available Monday.

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Dyer writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Updates:
9:12 PM, Aug. 12, 2019: This story has been updated to add information about the Marines who were charged.

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