James Dennis ‘J.D.’ Smith, a 49-year-old former CIA special agent and Navy Seal, has been arrested in connection with an ongoing federal smuggling investigation.
Smith, 49, was arrested on Saturday, June 17 in Charlotte, South Carolina. On the same day, Smith was identified as a former Navy SEAL and CIA special agent by multiple sources.
Similarly, two Columbia, South Carolina brothers Carl Rye, 41, and Bryon Rye, 43, were also arrested in a Rosewood Drive house by authorities.
All three men have been charged with conspiring to distribute at least 1,540 pounds of marijuana since 2014 according to the complaint, with each charge carrying a sentence of 5 to 40 years.
via The State:
According to the complaint, Smith supplied the Rye brothers with marijuana. Bryon Rye supplied the money to buy Smith’s marijuana, and Carl Rye sold the marijuana in South Carolina, including to a distributor in Beaufort County, legal papers said.
On numerous occasions, Smith landed his private airplane at Jim Hamilton-Owens Field in Columbia to pick up money owed to him by the Rye brothers, the complaint said. Each time Smith landed at Owens Field, Bryon Rye went to a bank to get cash from a safe deposit box he kept there to pay Smith for the marijuana, the complaint said.
Smith had bought the airplane, a twin-engine Cessna with a range of some 1,000 miles, under the business name of “The Praetorian” for use in medical humanitarian missions in Central America, according to aviation and court records.
The marijuana was stored at two different storage units: one at the Riverchase Self Storage in Lexington and the other at The Storage Center in Aiken, South Carolina.
According to court records, the arrests cap off a three-year investigation in which the federal Drug Enforcement Agency used airplane records, safe deposit box records, text message records, vehicle electronic tracking devices, video surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing dogs, GPS cell phone tracking, still photographs and plain old-fashioned stakeouts and the tailing of suspects.
As for Smith, the former Seal, he served in Iraq and won a Bronze Star for heroism in combat and won a Special Operations Medic of the Year award. While working with the CIA, Smith provided security for US and foreign clients in war-zone environments, including Afghanistan, Haiti, Pakistan, Africa and Latin America