16 U.S. Marines Arrested and Charged With Human Trafficking, Drug Crimes

Photo credits: Ken Steinhart/Orange County Register

On Thursday (July 25), a cloak of dishonor was cast over Camp Pendleton, California as members of the U.S. Marine Corps who were stationed there engaged in a routine battalion formation.

According to CNN, 16 U.S. Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton. They were subsequently charged with an assortment of felonies, including human trafficking and serious drug-related charges. The U.S. Marine Corps released a statement describing the embarrassment, which unfolded at Camp Pendleton on Thursday.

“Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests. None of the Marines arrested or detained for questioning served in support of the Southwest Border Support mission,” the statement read.

The Marine Corps also stated that eight other U.S. Marines were questioned about criminal drug activity. Their questioning was unrelated to the drug charges leveled against the 16 other Marines who were arrested at Camp Pendleton. A U.S. government official told CNN that the 16 arrests were spawned by a preceding incident that transpired in early July.

CNN subsequently published a report on that situation as well. According to the national news source, ICE agents and local police officers arrested two other Marines at Camp Pendleton after completing a joint investigation.

After uncovering the immigrant smuggling-for-profit scheme conducted by the two Marines, a follow-up investigation by law enforcement officials netted evidence of a more elaborate human trafficking ring. The arrests at Camp Pendleton on July 25 came only a day after another disparaging incident of military misconduct made the headlines.

On Wednesday (July 24), the U.S. military booted a group of Navy SEALS out of Iraq due to what it called “a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline.”

“The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (in Iraq) ordered the early redeployment of a SEAL Team platoon to San Diego due to a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods,” reads a statement issued by the US Special Operations Command.

The separate investigations of all the aforementioned incidents of U.S. military personnel misconduct are ongoing.