Thirteen Marines have been formally charged with playing a role in the smuggling of undocumented immigrants into the U.S., the Marine Corps announced Friday.
In addition to the smuggling charges, the Marines will face military court proceedings for charges including failure to obey an order, drunkenness, endangerment, larceny and perjury, according to a statement from the 1st Marine Division Press Office.
Two of the Marines were specifically named — Lance Cpls. Byron Law and David Salazar-Quintero — but the other names were withheld. These two have also been charged federally with transporting and conspiring to transport illegal immigrants into the country for financial gain. Both were based at Camp Pendleton, in California.
According to a criminal complaint filed in July, Border Patrol agents were making normal rounds when they saw a black car pull off the road around seven miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. They pulled the vehicle over and found Law driving and Salazar-Quintero in the front passenger seat. They had three undocumented immigrants in the back seat; the three reportedly told the agents they were Mexican citizens and did not have documents to enter the U.S. legally.
All five were arrested and questioned. Law and Salazar-Quintero each pointed fingers at the other. Law told an agent that Salazar-Quintero had asked him on July 2 if he wanted to make $1,000 to pick up an illegal. They drove to the Mexican border, then dropped the first immigrant off at a McDonald’s in Del Mar, Calif. They weren’t paid that day and on July 3 they agreed to pick up three more people to be paid for that day and the day before’s work.
Salazar-Quintero said that Law had been the one to introduce him to smuggling.
Two of the immigrants from the car admitted they were going to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the country.