Two Marines based at Camp Pendleton face federal charges after allegedly accepting money to pick up undocumented immigrants near the U.S-Mexico border.
Three undocumented immigrants were in the back seat, and they told authorities they planned to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the U.S., the Times reported.
The arrests illustrate the ongoing struggle at the U.S. border, where the Trump administration’s hardline policies against undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers clash with a shadow economy in which people are willing to pay to be smuggled across.
Earn Money by Picking Up an ‘Illegal Alien’
The Marines were identified as Lance Cpl. Byron Darnell Law II and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero. Law reportedly said that on July 2, Salazar-Quintero asked him if he wanted to earn $1,000 by picking up an “illegal alien.”
According to court documents, the two drove to Jacumba Hot Springs on July 2 and, guided by someone in Mexico calling them on a phone, collected a person at a pickup spot, Law said. The Marines drove the person to a fast-food parking lot in Del Mar. A middleman met them there but didn’t give them the money Law said they had been promised.
On July 3, Salazar-Quintero called Law and asked if he wanted to try again. Law said Salazar-Quintero guaranteed they would be paid this time.
They collected their passengers about 10 a.m. and were arrested a few minutes later, court documents said.