Thirteen U.S. Marines based at Camp Pendleton have been charged as part of a human smuggling investigation first launched over the summer, the 1st Marine Division said Friday. All identified as members of the 1st Marine Division, they face military court proceedings on charges including transporting or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants, endangerment, larceny, and perjury, according to NBC San Diego. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service reportedly first began looking into human smuggling claims against the Marines after U.S. Border Patrol agents saw a group of three undocumented immigrants hop into a car driven by two U.S. Marines on Interstate 8 in early July.
The undocumented immigrants reportedly told authorities they’d agreed to give the Marines $8,000 to be driven from the border to Los Angeles. The two Marines, identified as Lance Cpl. Byron D. Law and Lance Cpl. David J. Salazar-Quintero, were the first to be arrested in the case, and 16 others were arrested after NCIS examined their cell phones. Quintero and Law have now been hit with smuggling charges. The other 11 Marines charged have yet to be identified.