24 Camp Pendleton Marines discharged due to human smuggling accusations

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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Two dozen Marines from Camp Pendleton have been less-than-honorably discharged over accusations of human smuggling or drug-related offenses.

The decision stems from arrests that were made in July 2019 in front of other Marines at a battalion formation.

A spokesperson for the 1st Marine Division told FOX 5 Saturday the nine most appalling cases were sent to court-martial, where eight pleaded guilty.

One Marine with a bad conduct discharge is still serving 18 months in the brig, the spokesperson added.

Over the last week, authorities charged the man they believe was the ringleader of the operation: Francisco Rojas.

Prosecutors said he was the one who recruited Marines from Camp Pendleton and paid them to transport undocumented immigrants through San Diego after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement, the spokesperson went on to say, “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.”

Last year a judge ruled the arrests that played out in front of the other Marines was unlawful. It’s unclear what impact that had on the overall investigation and the individual cases against those Marines.

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