6 Camp Pendleton Marines plead guilty to human smuggling

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SAN DIEGO — Six of the 23 Camp Pendleton Marines arrested and charged this summer for alleged misconduct, including accusations they smuggled undocumented immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, have pleaded guilty, Marine officials said Tuesday.

The service members from the 1st Marine Division were detained during three separate incidents this July — including a widely publicized mass arrest during a battalion formation at Camp Pendleton — stemming from allegations of human trafficking, drug distribution and weapons charges.

In addition to the six who have pleaded guilty, 13 Marines have agreed to “separation in lieu of courts-martial,” meaning the service members have agreed to removal from the Marines in exchange for dismissal of their charges, according to 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh.

Four of the Marines await trial, but a court date has not yet been set, Edinburgh said.

It was unclear what kind of sentence the six who pleaded guilty will face.

The announcement came one day after a junior-enlisted Marine from the 1st Marine Division was arrested by border patrol officials for allegedly transporting undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The unidentified Marine — who was arrested at around 1:30 a.m. Monday — is being held in civilian custody, according to USMC officials, and may face charges in either civilian or military court.

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