16 Marines Arrested For Smuggling Drugs And People Across The Border

Government agencies and militaries around the world are often accused of corruption and sometimes alleged to have committed crimes. The United States military is no stranger to such allegations. Thursday, well over a dozen United States Marine Corp troops were arrested at Camp Pendleton in Southern California on a list of charges ranging from human trafficking to drug smuggling, officials reported.

Each of the troops arrested in connection with the crimes are members of the First Batallion, Fifth Marines between ranks of E-2 and E4 (PFC-Corporal), a spokeswoman told reporters. She added that none of the marines were actually charged yet. In addition to the arrestees, eight more Marines were questioned in relation to drug offenses unrelated to the previous arrests.

Corrupt Marines

Information stemming from an ongoing human trafficking investigation led to the arrests on Thursday. Neither of the troops arrested or detained for questioning Thursday were serving in support of the Southwest Border Support Mission, a counter-narcotics mission in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Marine Corps stated.

1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on this matter,” said a statement released by Marine Corp officials. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.

Names of the arrested troops were not released by the Marines and details of the alleged crimes were not disclosed at this time. 

Camp Pendleton Photo Credit: US Marines

Two Camp Pendleton based Marines, Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero, were arrested in San Diego County earlier this month and charged with transporting illegal immigrants in exchange for money, according to a federal complaint. Both men face one felony count of seeking monetary compensation for moving unauthorized immigrants into the country after they had crossed the border, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

A History Of Smuggling

It may surprise you, but this type of activity is commonplace in the military. Countless cases of soldiers using their position to cover for their crimes have made headlines in recent years. This January, two army green berets pled guilty in a plot to smuggle 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia. However, it was later suggested that these two soldiers were not acting on their own, but were a part of an extensive criminal network that operated under the shadows of military protection. 

It was this military protection that allowed them to pull off many schemes that the average person could never think of getting away with.

Statistically, most of the crimes committed by the United States military take place overseas. In a report by l’Humanite published in June of 2017, United States troops stationed in Okinawa, Japan, committed 5,800 crimes since 1972. While they make up just 4.2% of the population in Okinawa, they represent a staggering 75% of crimes committed.

The website reports that during World War II, United States troops raped tens of thousands of women in Germany. While exact numbers are impossible to obtain, the book Taken by Force says that 11,000 women were raped between 1945 and 1946.

Photo Credit: Horst Faas/AP

In another interesting case back in 2005, a captain and a master sergeant in the Air National Guard were arrested for importing 290,000 Ecstasy pills to New York on a military cargo plane. Both of the military officials involved were ultimately sentenced to serve 17 years in prison.

This type of operation is nothing new. In fact, since at least the 1970s, when the United States was at war with Vietnam, US Soldiers have taken advantage of the free travel and unrestricted border crossing made possible by the military. Legendary Harlem kingpin Frank Lucas became notorious for his incredibly pure heroin in the 1970s, thanks to a trade network from Asia that was flowing underground through the US military. 

New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor called Lucas, “one of the most outrageous international dope-smuggling gangs ever… an innovator who got his own connection outside the US and then sold the stuff himself in the street.”

With a massive profit incentive always available, it is extremely tempting for people who have military clearance to get involved in the black market, and there is no doubt that this type of activity will continue so long as that incentive is still there.

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