A Marine based at Camp Pendleton in California has been arrested for allegedly smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico.
NBC News reported that the Marine had just finished entry-level training (meaning he had completed boot camp, infantry training, and his military occupational specialty training) when he was arrested by Customs and Border Protection officials.
“The smuggling took place at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the 1st Marine Division told NBC News in a statement,” the outlet reported. The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody and has not been identified. ABC7 reported that it was unclear at this time whether this case will be “transferred to the military justice system.”
NBC also reported that this is not the first Marine from Camp Pendleton to be arrested for human trafficking:
This isn’t the first time in recent months Marines from Camp Pendleton, where the 1st Marine Division is based, have been detained on suspicion of human trafficking. The Marine Corps said of the 23 Marines detained in July from three separate incidents involving human trafficking, drug distribution and weapons charges, six have pleaded guilty to charges at court-martials.
Thirteen of them have agreed to leave the Marines and the rest are in the “process of being adjudicated” according to the statement.
Authorities told the outlet that there is no connection between the current Marine and the previous offenses.
Camp Pendleton is located 38 miles from downtown San Diego, and is described as “the Corps’ largest West Coast expeditionary training facility,” encompassing “more than 125,000 acres of Southern California terrain,” according to the Marine Corps website.
Fox News reported that 16 of the 23 Marines arrested in July were taken during a Battalion formation. In November, however, a military judge ruled their arrests had been unlawful and that their rights had been violated. It is unclear where in the myriad of case outcomes those 16 fall. The 16 were arrested after authorities learned information regarding their actions from an earlier human smuggling investigation, NBC reported at the time.
It was earlier in July when two other Marines were arrested for allegedly transporting illegal immigrants in exchange for money. Those two Marines are among the four still facing criminal charges. The two Marines would allegedly receive the immigrants “at a pickup point about 20 miles east of a U.S. port of entry at Tecate and seven miles north of the border,” NBC reported. The two Marines were also questioned about drug offenses, though those weren’t related to smuggling drugs.
The other five were arrested during a separate incident.
None of the Marines that have been arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants were part of the Southwest Border Support mission, various outlets reported.