Sixteen U.S. marines were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in illegal activities including human smuggling and drug-related offences, the U.S. military said.
The marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton, Calif., a base about 90 kilometres from the U.S.-Mexico border, based on information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a news release.
Eight other marines were questioned for unrelated alleged drug offences, the statement added.
The U.S. Marine Corps said none of those arrested or detained were serving in support of the military’s mission along the border with Mexico.
Officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The arrest comes a day after the military said a U.S. Navy SEAL team was sent back from Iraq because of discipline issues. An official said it was because, in part, they had been drinking alcohol, something that is prohibited.
A few weeks ago, two U.S. Marines were arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border by a Border Patrol agent. They were accused of smuggling three Mexicans into the United States.
The U.S. Marine Corps said information gained from those arrests led to Thursday’s arrests.
Camp Pendleton is the Marine Corps’s largest base on the U.S. West Coast.
Marines this year were brought in to help support the Department of Homeland Security in reinforcing the U.S.-Mexico border by installing razor wire on top of existing barriers. Military troops are barred from making arrests of immigrants.