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Two Camp Pendleton Marines Charged With Smuggling Immigrants

The main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base is shown in this undated photo.

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / LENNY IGNELZI

Above: The main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base is shown in this undated photo.

Two Camp Pendleton Marines were arraigned Monday on charges that they helped transport immigrants into the United States without legal permission as part of a smuggling operation, according to court records.

On July 3, border patrol agents pulled over Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero in Boulevard, near the Tecate Port of Entry. In the back seat of the car were three Mexican nationals who later acknowledged they were not authorized to enter the United States, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The agents arrested Law II and Salazar-Quintero and, when questioned, both admitted to being involved in the smuggling operation, according to the complaint. But their stories diverged from there.

Law II told agents Salazar-Quintero recruited him to pick up the migrants, while Salazar-Quintero said it was the other way around, according to the complaint.

Both men told agents they were Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. KPBS confirmed this through a Camp Pendleton spokesman.

“We are aware of the charges facing Lance Cpl. Law and Lance Cpl. Salazar-Quintero, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigative efforts into this matter,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the men are assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

Salazar-Quintero told agents he had been to Jacumba on four different occasions with the intent of transporting migrants, according to the complaint. He also said he and Law II were in the area on July 2 to pick up three undocumented immigrants and transport them to Solana Beach.

The migrants were identified as Samuel Adame-Saldana, Virginio Roberto Avendano-Rosales and Sandra Avendano-Miguel. Avendano-Rosalas and Avendano-Miguel told agents they had agreed to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the U.S., according to the complaint.

Salazar-Quintero was released on a $10,000 bond, according to his attorney. Law II was also held on $10,000 bail, but his attorney has not responded to KPBS’s email for comment.

Salazar-Quintero was ordered not to leave California or to enter Mexico, according to the pretrial release order. Law II was ordered to limit his travel to San Diego and Imperial counties and the state of Texas and also ordered not to enter Mexico, the pretrial release order said.

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