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13 Camp Pendleton Marines charged in human smuggling operation

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

Thirteen Camp Pendleton-based Marines detained in a human smuggling investigation in July are facing a variety of related charges under military law, the 1st Marine Division said Friday.

All 13 were charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the law governing the conduct of service members. Their charges include failure to obey orders, drunkenness, endangerment, larceny and perjury.

Five Marines were charged with having direct involvement in the human smuggling conspiracy, according to Maj. Kendra Motz, a 1st Marine Division spokeswoman.

All but one of the Marines are assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at the base. One Marine, arrested by Border Patrol on July 10, is assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. His arrest had not previously been reported.

The next step in the military system will be preliminary Article 32 hearings, which function similar to civilian grand juries. No dates for those hearings were announced.

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The investigation into the human smuggling ring started after two Marines were arrested for picking up at least three unauthorized immigrants near Jacumba Hot Springs on July 3.

Lance Corporals Byron Law and David Salazar-Quintero were initially charged in federal court but their cases were turned over to the Marine Corps.

Then, on July 25, during unit formation, 16 Marines were detained in a mass arrest in front of their peers. Of those arrested that day, 10 have been charged.

The Marines declined to release the names of the 11 other service members allegedly involved until their first public hearings. Motz, the 1st Marine Division spokeswoman, said prosecutors have not yet decided whether all the Marines will be tried separately or together.

None of the Marines charged was involved in the overall border support mission at the U.S. southern border, the Marines said.

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© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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