11:07 GMT08 July 2020
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    A total of 16 US Marines were arrested Thursday for the "alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses."

    The Marines were assigned to the 1st Marine Division and were apprehended at a battalion formation in California's Camp Pendleton, a statement from the service reveals. An additional eight Marines were also questioned over their alleged involvement in "drug offenses unrelated to [Thursday's] arrests."

    The arrests were carried out with assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

    The latest development comes weeks after two US Marines were arrested on July 3 for reportedly attempting to smuggle three undocumented Mexican immigrants into the US through California. According to US District Court documents obtained by the Marine Corps Times from the Southern District of California, Lance Corporals David Javier Salazar-Quintero and Byron Darnell Law II of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, were the latest service members accused of carrying out the crime "for financial gain."

    A source with knowledge of the matter told Task & Purpose that the Thursday arrests were the result of information pulled by NCIS from phones belonging to Salazar-Quintero and Law. Maj. Kendra Motz, a spokesperson for the 1st Marine Division, stressed to the outlet that "any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process."

    The arrests also come after reports surfaced this week, revealing that a US Navy SEAL unit stationed in Iraq was ordered home prematurely after officials "lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish" their mission. Reports suggest the platoon was booted over their collective alcohol abuse.


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