Sixteen Marines were arrested Thursday in Camp Pendleton in California. Authorities are pretty reserved right now about the allegations. The press statement from the 1st Marine Division simple describes this as “involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses.”
Authorities did mention this, however: “Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests.”
Communication Strategy and Operations Director Maj. Kendra Motz confirmed to Law&Crime that this is connected to the earlier arrest of two Camp Pendleton Marines for allegedly transporting undocumented immigrants.
The defendants related to that case were previously identified as Lance Corporals Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero. Records show they pleaded not guilty on July 17.
Law’s attorney of record Nancee Schwartz and Salazar-Quintero’s attorney Mark Adams both declined to comment.
New: 16 US Marines were arrested Thursday for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses, according to a statement from the Marine Corps.
The arrests took place in a dramatic fashion during a battalion formation.
— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) July 25, 2019
Motz said, however, that she couldn’t go into detail regarding the nature of the “human smuggling” involving the 16 Marines because that is the limit of the information her office has; she said the 16 Marines were thought to be associated with Law and Salazar-Quintero. The nature of the drug-related offenses also remains unclear.
The suspects were arrested, but haven’t been charged. They belong to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Motz said. She said their ranks ranged from E-2 (private first class) to E-4 (corporal).
The 1st Marine Division also said that eight other Marines were taken for questioning about drug-related offenses. These are unrelated to the earlier case, said Motz.
Note: Updated to show that defense lawyers Mark Adams and Nancee Schwartz responded to a Law&Crime request for comment.
[Image via ABC 7 screengrab]