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12 US Marines suspected of smuggling illegal migrants face charges

12 US Marines suspected of smuggling illegal migrants face charges
A dozen marines have charges pending against them after being accused of involvement in smuggling migrants that have crossed the US border, Marine Corps officials have said.

The marines are said to have driven migrants through a heavily-armed US border zone near San Diego after they had entered the country illegally, according to AP. 

Two marine riflemen were stopped by Border Patrol agents on July 3 after they were seen letting three migrants out of the back of their BMW. This led to the arrest of over a dozen other marines. The men told authorities they had been recruited by a person who would often meet with them in a parking lot next to a Whole Foods supermarket, the New York Times reported in July.

The marines have pled not guilty in a federal court. Six other marines and a sailor who were detained last month have been released and sent to command at Camp Pendleton. 

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