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Marine private first class accused of attempting to smuggle two Chinese women into the US

The Marine Corps identified Pfc. Bryan O. Newell Jr. from Flint, Michigan, as the Marine arrested early December for allegedly attempting to smuggle two Chinese women across the border between U.S. and Mexico.

Newell, a Marine with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, in Camp Pendleton, California, was arrested Dec. 2 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh said in a Dec. 3 press release.

The Marine was driving through the San Ysidro port of entry just south of San Diego in his 2007 white Mustang around 1:35 a.m. when a Customs and Border Protection officer inspected his vehicle, according to court records Marine Corps Times received Monday afternoon.

ABC San Diego first reported the name of the Marine involved.

Newell allegedly told the CBP agents he was in Mexico “partying at the strip clubs," adding that he regularly crossed into Mexico, the court documents show.

But when the agent found the Marine had no history crossing the border and was not eligible to use the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection lane he attempted to pass through, a referral sheet for a secondary inspection was placed on his windshield and the Marine was directed to pull into a secondary lot, court records show.

The record said that while Newell was in the secondary lane, he allegedly picked up the referral sheet off his windshield then asked a Customs and Border Protection officer if he could leave because he was just given a warning.

After his alleged attempt to leave was shot down, the Marine then refused to open his trunk despite multiple orders by Customs and Border Protection agents to do so, at one point simply responding that “he had a daughter,” the court document said.

The inspecting officer radioed for backup at that point, the court document said, secured the Marine and finally opened up the trunk to find two women hiding inside.

The two women were identified as Qiaoying Cai and Yajie Liue ― two Chinese nationals with no authorization to enter the U.S., the document said.

Though he is not in the brig, the Marine Corps does have custody of Newell as he awaits his federal arraignment, Maj. Kendra Motz, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, told Marine Corps Times in a Monday afternoon email.

Newell joined the Marine Corps Nov.13, 2018, just more than one year before his arrest at the southern border. His only awards are the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Motz said.

Newell was not the first Marine from his division to be arrested for alleged human smuggling charges, though his arrests is believed to be unrelated to the earlier smuggling cases, Motz said.

In early July Border Patrol agents arrested two Marines, Lance Cpl. Byron Darnell Law II and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero, about seven miles from the border with three undocumented immigrants in the back seat, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

The subsequent NCIS investigation into the July 3 incident led to a mass arrest of 16 Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, in Camp Pendleton, California, at a battalion formation filmed by the Marine Corps.

Ultimately 13 Marines ― 10 arrested at the formation ― were charged with various allegations, ranging from the theft of smoke grenades to LSD distribution, all related to an alleged smuggling ring.

A judge eventually ruled that the mass arrest and comments allegedly made by the commanding officer violated the rights of the Marine’s arrested. After the ruling the Corps stopped pursuing courts-martial for the Marines arrested at the formation but will pursue administrative punishments.

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