Two Marines were arrested July 3 by a U.S. Border Patrol agent and now face federal charges for allegedly smuggling three undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Lance Cpl. Byron Darnell Law II and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero were pulled over by a U.S. Border Patrol agent about seven miles north of the U.S.-Mexico Border near Jacumba Hot Springs, California, with three undocumented immigrants in the back seat of the vehicle, according to a court document filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of California and obtained by Marine Corps Times.
The undocumented immigrants told Border Patrol agents that they were Mexican citizens and that they were going to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the United States.
Both Marines are riflemen assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, California.
Law told Border Patrol agents that he was an active duty Marine and that the day prior Salazar-Quintero had contacted him and asked if he wanted to make $1,000 to pick up an “illegal alien."
“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,” Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told Marine Corps Times in an email.
The two men are facing federal charges for allegedly smuggling undocumented immigrants for the “purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain,” the court document reads.
On July 2, Law said he and Salazar allegedly drove to Jacumba, California, and picked up an “illegal alien" and brought him to a McDonald’s parking lot in Del Mar.
He told Border Patrol agents that the two were guided by cell phone instructions from an “unknown Mexico number” and that they were not paid for the July 2 incident.
On the morning of the arrest, Law said he was again contacted by Salazar-Quintero — who he described as being “responsible for organizing” the smuggling — for another job, and guaranteed “they would get paid for todays and last night’s event in cash,” according to a court document.
Salazar-Quintero told Border Patrol agents that he was “introduced to smuggling” by Law, and that Law “introduced him to a man that recruited him,” the court document detailed.
Salazar-Quintero told agents he had traveled to the Jacumba area on at least "four different occasions” to smuggle undocumented immigrants and that not every trip was successful.
Law was identified by the three undocumented immigrants as the driver of the vehicle in the July 3 incident.
This story was first reported by Quartz.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.