Authorities arrested 16 Marines Thursday at Camp Pendleton in Southern California and charged them with drug-related offenses and human smuggling, military officials said in a statement.
Eight other Marines were being held for questioning for unrelated drug offenses, according to the Marine Corps.
The arrests reportedly took place during a battalion formation Thursday morning at the base, located north of San Diego.
The arrests came just weeks after two Marine Corps corporals — Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero — were taken into custody for allegedly taking cash payments to help move undocumented Mexican immigrants into the U.S.
Marine Corps officials indicated that those two arrests — and a subsequent investigation — led to the dramatic scene Thursday at Camp Pendleton.
“The 16 Marines were arrested for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses,” the Marine Corps said in a statement. “Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests.”
“An additional eight Marines were taken aside to be questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today’s arrests,” officials said.
None of the Marines arrested or detained Thursday were a part of the U.S. military’s operation along the border with Mexico, officials said.
The Marine Corps said a joint investigation with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service will continue.
“Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process,” the Marine Corps said in its statement.
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