The Marine Corps filmed the battalion formation where 16 Marines were arrested in July for alleged connections to human smuggling and drug offenses, the Corps confirmed.
The 16 Marines arrested were from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, in Camp Pendleton, California, and ranged in rank from private first class to corporal, Maj. Kendra Motz, a Marine spokeswoman, told Marine Corps Times on the day of the arrests.
First Lt. Cameron Edinburgh said Thursday that the 1st Marine Division communication strategy office recorded the arrest so that it was "filmed as a way to document the detainments that took place on July 25, 2019 in an unbiased, non-editorialized manner.”
“The video was then and is now intended for official use only," said Edinburgh, a spokesman for the Marine Corps.
“To protect the rights of the accused, the video has not been released by the government to the public, nor do we intend to release it at this time," he added.
The San Diego Union-Tribune was able to obtain at least a short version of the video that shows Marines standing in formation as someone at the head of the formation calls names to the front with a clipboard.
As the Marines run to line up at the front of the formation what appears to be agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service take positions around the formation, moving in to arrest the Marines once they are all called up, the video shows.
While Edinburgh did not see the video posted by the Union-Tribune, he did say the full video was longer than the 37 second clip the newspaper posted.
The mass arrests came just a few weeks after Border Patrol agents arrested two Marines, Lance Cpl. Byron Darnell Law II and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero, near the U.S.-Mexico border July 3.
Only 10 of the Marines arrested at the battalion formation were eventually charged for alleged connections to the human smuggling ring. Three Marines arrested at different times brings the total number of Marines charged in connection to the smuggling ring to 13, the Marine Corps said.
The allegations against the 13 Marines include distribution of LSD, stealing smoke grenades and conspiring or aiding in the smuggling of undocumented or illegal immigrants, according to charge sheets obtained by Marine Corps Times.
Edinburgh said the communication office that filmed the mass arrest is “cooperating with the judicial proceedings regarding this case."