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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Twelve Marines remain in custody at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and are facing charges related to an alleged human smuggling operation, the Marine Corps said in a statement Monday.

On July 3, two Marine lance corporals -- Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero -- were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol on charges they transported unauthorized migrants when they drove from the US-Mexico border with three Mexican nationals in the back of a vehicle. Law and Salazar-Quintero are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton. The two Marines have pleaded innocent in federal court.

Three weeks later, on July 25, another 16 Marines were arrested during battalion formation in connection with the smuggling operation and unspecified drug offenses. A Marine spokesman described the arrests as a "public display for the entire unit to see." Two more Marines and a Navy corpsman were also arrested that day, according to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Monday's statement, by 1st Marine Division spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz, said all but 12 of the Marines have been released.

"There are currently 12 Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in confinement at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton for alleged involvement in smuggling," Motz said in an email. "The remaining Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who were questioned or detained have been released to their command. All personnel involved are presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Further details about the charges the Marines face or the alleged smuggling operation were not available Monday morning.

A Section on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: Census workers set for address checks 12 Marines remain held, Corps says

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