Camp Pendleton near San Diego announced the discharge yesterday of 24 marines on drug related charges and human trafficking.
9 of the 24 Marines discharged were sent to court martial and 8 of those individuals pleaded guilty. They all were dismissed from the Marine Corps as less than honorable. The remaining 15 marines involved faced lesser charges and they all were dismissed as well as less than honorable. One of the marines faces up to 18 months in military prison.
“We have a duty to the American people to be the most ready when the nation is least ready, and we will continue to enforce the standards of honor, courage, and commitment that serve as the great hallmarks of our Corps.”
– Camp Pendleton Press Release
The investigation began last year after the arrest of two military personnel, Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero who were charged with transporting undocumented immigrants. The two were apprehended about 7 miles from the U.S.- Mexico Border.
The arrest of the 24 marines led to information implicating Francisco Saul Rojas-Hernandez who was eventually arrested by San Diego Police. Hernandez was apparently running a human smuggling ring and was paying marines to traffic immigrants into the U.S.
On February 5 conspiracy charges were filed against Hernandez for conspiring to recruit Marines to traffic immigrants.
Ultimately most of the charges for drug crimes and trafficking were dropped by prosecutors against the marines after the arrest were ruled unlawful outside of Camp Pendleton.