Marine veteran Jesse Gabriel Marks, 38, was sentenced this month to 30 years in prison for drugging and trafficking hundreds of women in Jacksonville, NC, which both includes and surrounds Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. According to the Marine Corps Times (MCT), “Marks was originally indicted on charges of methamphetamine and heroin distribution as well as sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.”

However, as reported by the MCT, “The drug charges were dropped as part of his plea agreement, which resulted in a sentence of 30 years followed by five years supervised release and an order to pay $249,700 in restitution to multiple victims.”

Marks enlisted into the Marine Corps as an 0311 (Infantry Rifleman) in April 2000, but was discharged in October 2002, while still stationed at Camp Lejeune, with the prestigious rank of “private.” Clearly, he wasn’t cut out for the Corps. The Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs Office released a statement saying, “Marks’s premature discharge and rank at time of separation are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards.”

In light of Marks’s current conviction, the Marine Corps’ comments aren’t shocking.

This case began when Marks was caught with methamphetamine in a 2019 drug bust. But the case quickly progressed beyond simply drugs into reports that Marks was illegally drugging and prostituting women on and around Camp Lejeune.

Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base entrance (Photo by Allen Breed/AP Photo)

According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marks “prostituted hundreds of women, including at least one minor, over nearly two decades. He used drugs, including heroin and methamphetamine, to keep them dependent on and prostituting for him.”

Marks’s Victims Could Be as Many as 600

U.S. Attorney’s Office-Eastern District, North Carolina, spokesman Don Connelly said of the case, “Marks confessed to prostituting more than 200 victims, but one witness said it was closer to 600.” Connelly continued, “He sold many kilograms of narcotics, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.”

Beyond simply being the provider of drugs to these women, he was also drugging them without their knowledge. According to the U.S. Attorney’s release, Marks “physically and emotionally abused many of the victims,” and “gave women drug cocktails without their full knowledge and, once they were unconscious or nearly unconscious, sexually assaulted them.” Marks is also reported to have recorded many of those assaults.

Marines from Camp Lejeune constantly deploy to quell violence across the world. Because of Marks, though, some Marines no doubt had to worry about more than fighting a war since Marks was back at home potentially trying to lure, addict, and/or assault their spouses or girlfriends while they were deployed.

“After meeting Marks, many victims either developed addictions or deepened their addictions, ruining their health and, in many cases, their lives,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its release.

Rampant drug abuse and prostitution have also no doubt ruined the relationships and marriages of many Marines. Such issues affect force readiness and negatively impact the Marines’ ability to put their sole focus on a given mission. Marks didn’t only negatively affect the lives of the women he drugged and assaulted, he also negatively affected the readiness of at least a portion of a large Marine Division.

Jesse Marks Targeted Active-duty Marines

Marks didn’t only focus on military dependents and civilians. “Indeed, evidence indicated that he used his experience as a Marine to teach women working for him how to better target Marines. He also sold drugs to Marines,” Don Connelly added.

By providing drugs to active-duty Marines, Marks further dampened their capabilities and readiness. It is plausible that he did this as much to get back to the Marine Corps for his (likely) negative experience when he was in as for his depraved desires.

Unfortunately, people like Jesse Marks will always be sticking around like scabs to military bases and other places where there are potentially vulnerable victims.

Marks is a depraved human being, but the behaviors of others around military bases across the nation are only slightly better. Businesses right outside military bases that offer car loans at 30-40 percent are only a smidge better on the scale of good and evil than Marks is.

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Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen are worn, both mentally and physically, after 20 years of sustained combat. This isn’t to say that there aren’t still hundreds of thousands of capable military personnel that are ready to fight, be deployed, or conduct a daring rescue at a moment’s notice. Yet, we need avenues for servicemembers to unwind and heal from so much war and not leeches just looking to make an easy dollar or take advantage of potentially vulnerable members of a population.

Good Riddance

Marks and people like him deserve to be imprisoned. Since his plea deal and conviction, more evidence has come to light about the possible depth of his operation. As Onslow County Sheriff Hans J. Miller said, “This case is over, however, there is still additional evidence that we are aware of that we will follow up. There may be more predators out there.”

Hopefully, the people affected by Marks’ actions can heal. Jacksonville, NC can rest a bit easier now knowing that the man who had enslaved so many has now been shackled and locked away. In the words of Green Day, Good Riddance, private.