Photo Information

Service members were arrested on the night of recent base-wide random vehicle checks aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune due to contraband in their vehicles. Contrabands found included illegal narcotics, open containers of alcohol, and unregistered weapons.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Base battles contraband through area-wide random vehicle checks

3 Dec 2012 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

The military medals on the visor of the vehicle shone in the probing flashlights and bright streetlights as military police officers searched through the car’s contents. Behind the car a service member, dazed from a night of drinking, held a resigned expression. He shivered in the early morning breeze as the police pulled every last item from his vehicle.

As the search progressed the pile of contraband on the hood of his car grew. Hypodermic needles were added to the pile alongside glinting vials, some empty, some containing a mysterious yellow liquid. Jars of moonshine and an open bottle of whiskey topped off the collection.

The Marine appeared stunned.

During a recent blustery night, many held similar expressions as they faced the weight of their decisions during the first series of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River random vehicle checks.

Every gate leading to an installation or a housing area aboard MCBCamp Lejeune and MCAS New River was staffed with extra personnel for the night, and at random intervals vehicles were selected for searches by the full force of law enforcement capabilities.

Naval Criminal Investigative Services, the Provost Marshall’s Office, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion and members of the Special Reaction Team aboard MCB Camp Lejeune with support from the Jacksonville Police Department swept the installations bringing K-9s and many other tools to seek out those bringing contraband aboard the base.

It’s a proactive, collaborative initiative to deter drug use aboard the base, said Joe Kennedy, a special agent in charge with NCIS Field Office Carolinas.

“We want to let people know we are taking this problem very seriously,” said Kennedy. “Drugs affect the operational readiness of the Marine Corps. We want to ensure we do everything in our power to make sure the war fighter is not hindered by illegal-drug usage.”

A recent rash of positive urinalysis results detecting drug use in II Marine Expeditionary Force’s service members led Maj. Gen. Raymond Fox go on the offensive. Fox coordinated with MCB Camp Lejeune’s law enforcement agencies to push the undertaking to the rest of the installation.

The operation was unique in many ways. Not only was it the first of its scope, it also brought together both the field and garrison sides of the military police job field.

Marines who typically only conduct law enforcement while in combat or deployed operations were able to experience what their colleagues do on the home front.

“On my last deployment we conducted vehicle check points and looked for drugs,” said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Hanson, a military police officer. “It was like what we’re doing here.”

The operation provided the opportunity for the 2nd LEB Marines to walk in PMO’s shoes and get a refresher on some of the tasks they will tackle when they deploy in upcoming months.

Measures like this may become more common in the future as the Marine Corps reinforces its standards.

While the man with the medals on his visor may have thought he had good intentions, or was justified by bulking up or getting stronger, the apparent anabolic steroids in his vehicle displayed conduct that is incompatible with Marine Corps values. When Marines deviate from standards an investigation, leading to possible prosecution, is carried out.

“Our purpose for existing is to watch out for the safety of Marines,” said 2nd Lt. Mark Moran, a watch commander with PMO. “We’re not here to hurt good Marines or take away their precious time. We are here because there are people out there breaking the law.”

This operation is a part of an ongoing campaign where, according to Capt. Robert M. Collinsworth, operations officer for the PMO, law enforcement will not rest until illegal drug use is eradicated from the Marine Corps.