Thirteen U.S. Marines arrested in July in connection with an alleged human smuggling operation in Southern California are now facing formal charges from the military.
The charges range from failure to obey an order to drunkenness and theft, and include the alleged transportation of undocumented immigrants, according to a statement from the 1st Marine Division.
Two of the Marines, Lance Corporal Byron Law II and Lance Corporal David Salazar-Quintero, were arrested on July 3 after border patrol agents found them picking up three illegal aliens along a stretch of Interstate 8, about 11 kilometers (7 miles) north of the U.S. border with Mexico.
According to court documents, Law and Salazar-Quintero admitted to having been in contact with a recruiter, who offered to pay them for transporting the illegal immigrants from the interstate to other locations.
Law told authorities he and Salazar-Quintero were never paid for the interaction, according to the complaint.
A third Marine was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol a week later, on July 10.
The other 10 were taken into custody during what some officials described as a sting operation July 25 at Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base located about 79 kilometers (49 miles) north of San Diego.
In a statement following the mass arrests, the Marine Corps’ 1st Division said the regiment’s commanding officer “will act within his authority to hold the Marines accountable at the appropriate level, should they be charged.”
In addition to the Marine Corps and U.S. Border Patrol, officials with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also aided in the initial investigation.
According to the Marine Corps, none of the Marines detained as part of the investigation were assigned to the U.S. military operation to support efforts to secure the U.S. southern border with Mexico.