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Marine surveillance leads BP to arrest 10 carrying pot near Yuma

Yuma-area Border Patrol agents arrested 10 men with bundles of marijuana in the desert near Dateland, Ariz., after the men were spotted by U.S. Marines on Tuesday night, authorities said. 

The 10 men, identified only as six Mexican nationals and four Hondurans, were apprehended with 286 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $143,000, in the desert about 150 miles west of Tucson, said a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection. 

The Marines were "performing surveillance" in the area, and spotted the men hiking through the desert. The Marines directed BP agents from the Wellton station to the group, CBP's Rob Daniels said.

While much of focus in recent months has been on the deployment of National Guard and active-duty military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border last fall, small groups of Marines, in specialized units called ground sensor platoons, have been quietly partnering with the Border Patrol for over a decade, reported the Marine Times in September. 

Along with helicopter crews from various Guard units, the Marines were assigned to keep watch over remote areas of the southern border, and guide Border Patrol agents to make arrests. 

In November, nearly 1,000 Marines from Camp Pendelton, Calif., were deployed to "harden the southern border," as General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy of the United States Northern Command put it, as part of Operation Faithful Patriot. 

Overall, more than 5,600 military personnel and dozens of units, including members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, were sent to the border, including around 1,500 in Arizona. While some military personnel were asked to fly helicopters and airplanes and surveil the border, soldiers were sent to install concertina or "razor" wire along U.S. ports, to the frustration of residents in Douglas and Nogales, Ariz.

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An infrared image of 10 men from a camera operated by Yuma Sector Border Patrol.