The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard Platoon during a ceremony at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Picture: Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel/U.S. Marines/Handout via Reuters
Los angeles - Sixteen Marines were arrested Thursday morning on allegations ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offences at California's Camp Pendleton, 160 kilometers south of Los Angeles. 

The Marines Times website cited a statement from the 1st Marine Division as reporting that the arrests were carried out by division officials and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) during battalion formation. 

"1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter," the statement said. 

"Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process." 

Thursday's mass arrests followed the July 3 arrests by Border Patrol agents of two Marines near the US-Mexico border, who are both riflemen assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton. 

The main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California. A human smuggling investigation by the military led to the arrest of 16 Marines while carrying out a battalion formation at California's Camp Pendleton, about an hour's drive from the US-Mexico border. File picture: Lenny Ignelzi/AP
They faced federal charges for allegedly smuggling three undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border for financial gain, report said. 

A statement from the 1st Marine Division on Thursday disclosed that the 16 arrests were based off information learned during a previous investigation, but it has not identified which one. Marines this year were deployed to U.S.-Mexico border to support the Department of Homeland Security in reinforcing the border by installing razor wire on top of existing barriers. 

Military troops are barred from making arrests of immigrants. 

Xinhua