Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero are Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. Both men have now been arrested for allegedly transporting illegal immigrants around California for money. The Marines were in contact with recruiters who offered the cash to pick up the immigrants and deliver them to a specific location. From the Washington Post:
On July 2, Law said Salazar-Quintero called to ask if he’d like to make $1,000 to pick up an undocumented immigrant along Interstate 8 and drop him off at a McDonald’s parking lot in Del Mar, Calif. Law said he agreed. To find the immigrant, Salazar-Quintero took directions from a man in Mexico, since he spoke Spanish, and located him on the shoulder, the complaint says. They finished the job, but didn’t get paid for it.
So they set out for another job the next day, Law said, and this time Salazar-Quintero said his contact promised they would be paid.
But that’s now how things worked out thanks to a Border Patrol agent who spotted their car stopping on the side of the road.
…a Border Patrol agent saw a black vehicle momentarily park in the dirt median of Interstate 8 near Jacumba Hot Springs, Calif. Then, he spotted footprints in the dirt seeming to lead toward the car, according to a federal complaint. He thought the footprints might belong to migrants.
The agent radioed his colleagues to look out for the black BMW, and in a matter of minutes the Marines were pulled over and asked for papers. The three men in the back seat, each from Mexico, admitted they were in the country illegally, according to the complaint.
The two Marines were questioned and each blamed the other for the situation. Law claimed that Salazar-Quintero had called him to offer the smuggling job while Salazar-Quintero said he only knew of the smuggling jobs because he’d been introduced to them by Law. Meanwhile, the Mexican immigrants said they had paid $8,000 each to be smuggled across the U.S. border, but it’s not clear who they paid.
What’s also not clear about this is why smugglers who took money from illegal immigrants in Mexico are still, apparently, concerned about their exact whereabouts once they cross the U.S. border. Isn’t the smuggler’s job done at that point? Why would the smugglers offer to pay people to pick someone up on the Interstate and drive them to a McDonald’s? Maybe this is the smuggler’s version of white glove service? Alternatively, maybe these people are doing a job for someone back in Mexico who needs them in a specific place in the U.S.? I’d like to hear more about that aspect of the story.
I’m surprised whoever is running this operation hasn’t just tried Uber, but I guess picking up people who don’t speak English on the side of the highway near the border might raise some red flags.