Newly released video shows the July 25 arrest of 15 Camp Pendleton Marines accused of human smuggling and conspiracy in front of their 800-person battalion.
The three video clips, obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune and posted Thursday, show the Marines called out in formation in front of their battalion before being surrounded and arrested by 40 or so NCIS officers.
"On July 25, agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and other military law enforcement arrested what the Marines say was a human smuggling ring in their midst," the story states. "Those arrests followed the July 3 arrest of two lance corporals from the same unit. Border Patrol agents said they saw the two Marines pick up suspected unauthorized immigrants near Jacumba Hot Springs."
But the emergence of the video may prove the arrested Marines' rights were violated and cause the case to be torpedoed, attorneys for two of the accused claim.
The public manner in which the Marines were arrested could constitute pretrial punishment and unlawful command influence, both of which are violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The video, which was recorded by personnel from the communication strategy office, "was filmed as a way to document the detainments that took place on July 25, 2019 in an unbiased, non-editorialized manner," spokesman for the 1st Marine Division, 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told the Union-Tribune.
Marines alleged to be in human smuggling ring arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton youtu.be
The audio in the YouTube clip is difficult to hear, but the Union-Tribune reports that Lt. Col. Eric M. Olson addressed the battalion once the arrested Marines were hauled off, saying, "What you just saw ... these Marines are a distraction to leadership and readiness."
In total, 13 Marines were charged with human smuggling and conspiracy.
According to Edinburgh per the Union-Tribune, the Marine Corps released charge sheets for 13 Marines but has since redacted the names of the accused, and each Marine is being tried separately.