National Guard numbers to increase in San Diego, Riverside, El Centro

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 20:17:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Nearly 400 California National Guardsmen will soon reside in the San Diego and El Centro region as a result of Governor Jerry Brown's April directive. 

The numbers break down to the 250 personnel currently working in the area, and 140 more members who have been activated to support the mission to combat transnational crime within the state, along the coast and at the border. 

The new personnel will report to Camp Roberts Army base near Monterey by June 4 for training ahead of their deployment to the Riverside, San Diego and El Centro regions. 

Once onsite, the additional members will continue to target transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers, and illegal firearm and drug smugglers with a focus on providing aviation operational assistance (non-flying duties) and criminal case support.
Last month 10News spoke with Sgt. Brianna Occhino, who is part of the 143rd HHC, a military police unit out of Ventura County.

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Occhino could not provide details about troop movements and training, but said the deployment letters sent out clearly stated that the Guardsmen would not be dealing with any immigration-related arrests or the building of a border wall.

An April email sent by The National Guard confirms Occhino's statements. The email reads as follows:  

"As we’ve previously noted, personnel will supplement the staffing of the Guard’s ongoing program, which includes 250 members statewide – 55 of whom are currently supporting similar counter drug work at the U.S.-Mexico border in California.

Again, this mission will focus on combating transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers and will continue until at least September 30, 2018 – the end of the federal fiscal year". 

California National Guard members will not engage in any direct law enforcement role nor enforce immigration laws, or participate in the construction of any new border barrier."

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