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

The main gate at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base on June 16, 2006 in Oceanside, California. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/TNS)

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.

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

Monday’s statement, by 1st Marine Division Spokeswoman Major Kendra Motz, said all but 12 of the Marines have been released.

“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.”

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

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© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.