16 Marines Were Snatched Out of Formation in Mass Arrest Connected to Human Smuggling

"Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests"
More than a dozen Marines were snatched out of battalion formation at Camp Pendleton on Thursday in a stunning mass arrest related to a human smuggling operation.

More than a dozen Marines were arrested Thursday, straight out of their battalion formation at Camp Pendleton, in relation to a human smuggling operation.

Officials said the 16 troops at the San Diego military base were arrested for a host of illegal activities as a direct result of a previous investigation that caught two other Marines smuggling undocumented immigrants across the border earlier this month.


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

An unnamed official told CNN the previous investigation involved Marines Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero, who were arrested by Border Patrol July 3 allegedly in the act of smuggling undocumented immigrants into the country. According to the federal complaint, the immigrants told Border Patrol that they had agreed to pay the Marines $8,000 to transport them from just north of the border to Los Angeles before ultimately ending up in New Jersey. After the two were arrested on July 3, Law told authorities that Salazar-Quintero had called him the night prior and asked if he wanted to make $1,000 for “picking up an illegal alien.”

Both Law and Salazar-Quintero have pleaded not guilty.

The details of the accusations against the newly arrested 16 Marines were not immediately clear. The Marines could be charged in a federal or military court. After they were arrested, the Marines were taken to be held in the brig on base.

"It's a shock to the system," said Major Kendra Motz, a spokeswoman for 1st Marine Division, to CBS News.

Cover: The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton is seen Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Oceanside, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)