22:58 GMT +307 December 2019
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    Three video clips show the July 25 arrest of Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

    Leadership Missteps May Harm Human Smuggling, Drug Probes Against US Marines

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    A recent ruling in favor of the 16 Marines publicly arrested at Camp Pendleton in California earlier this year may have given defense attorneys leverage in their separate, ongoing human smuggling and drug ring cases.

    Lawyers representing Marines charged with various human smuggling and drug-related crimes following a mass arrest in front of their peers in July took to Camp Pendleton on Tuesday to reportedly explore their clients’ new options, according to the Associated Press, citing Maj. Kendra Motz.

    This comes shortly after Marine Col. Stephen Keane ruled on November 15 that commanders of the 800-troop unit committed “unlawful command influence” against the 16 Marines before they were arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents, reported the San Diego Tribune.

    Unlawful command influence, also referred to as the “mortal enemy of military justice” refers to the illegal punishment of a service member prior to their day in court.

    It’s now known that the July arrests were not only in relation to the arrests of Lance Corporals David Javier Salazar-Quintero and Byron Darnell Law II on human smuggling charges, but were also associated with an alleged drug ring within the ranks.

    The Tribune reported that Marines who were present in the July formation testified that commanders within the battalion referred to the arrested individuals as “cancer” and “bad Marines.”

    Though 16 were arrested, the outlet reported that only 13 were charged in the human smuggling probe. The number of those charged with unspecified drug offenses has not been released.

    “The video was filmed as a way to document the detainments that took place on July 25, 2019, in an unbiased, non-editorialized manner,” a statement from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment said following the video’s release. “The video was then and is now intended for official use only.”

    “You have an uphill battle here,” the judge told prosecutors, who have until November 25 to remedy the alleged command influence.

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    Tags:
    drug ring, human smuggling, Camp Pendleton, Investigation, court, probe, military court, US Marines
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