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    Several US Marines Plead Guilty to Human Trafficking, Drug and Weapons Charges

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    A total of six Marines detained during a mass arrest earlier this year have pleaded guilty and over a dozen have submitted pre-trial agreements related to their separate cases, which range from charges of drug distribution to human trafficking.

    With assistance from leadership within the US Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, dozens of Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents took to the Camp San Mateo section of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California, in July to arrest several service members accused of various crimes.

    The mass arrest, which was caught on camera and later released by the US Marine Corps Communication Office, did not include all individuals tied to the military’s probes, and more Marines from the battalion were later detained - bringing the total facing trial to 23.

    Of those charged with varying combinations of drug distribution, weapons and human trafficking charges, at least six Marines have pleaded guilty, and 13 Marines “submitted and have approved pre-trial agreements,” Newsweek’s James LaPorta revealed in a Tuesday Twitter post.

    In most cases, pre-trial agreements relate to plea bargains agreed upon in exchange for leniency in court sentencing.

    The four remaining Marines have not yet been adjudicated.

    Last month, judge Marine Col. Stephen Keane told prosecutors that they will have an “uphill battle” to remedy the allegations of command influence (or illegal punishment without trial) displayed by service leadership during the July 25 lineup. Witnesses from the battalion who were present at the mass arrest also reported that those detained by NCIS authorities were referred to as “cancer” and “bad Marines.”

    It’s unclear what decision was reached on that matter, as military court documents have not been made public.

    This update comes after yet another service member from the 1st Marine Division was arrested and taken into custody on December 2, at around 1:30 a.m. local time, by the US Customs and Border Protection under the suspicion of “bringing in undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro port of entry,” Fox 5 reported on Wednesday, citing authorities. The Marine Corps statement went on to emphasize that the Marine was not part of the Southwest Border Support Mission.

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    Tags:
    smuggling, human trafficking, Camp Pendleton, plea deal, US Marine Corps, US Marines, NCIS, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
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