Ex-Navy Seal and CIA Agent Arrested for Weed Smuggling

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A Former CIA agent was charged this week running a massive drug smuggling operation out of North Carolina.  James Dennis “J.D.”, was arrested Saturday in Charlotte in connection with an extensive and ongoing national federal marijuana trafficking investigation.

Smith, a former decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, and CIA special agent served 16 years, was the recipient of a bronze star during his tour in Iraq, and a Special Operations Medic of the Year Award.  According to the website of a global security and crisis management consulting firm where he was listed as a Principal Associate of Security Operations.

James Smith is facing charges of conspiring to distribute “at least 700 kilograms (1,540 pounds) or more of marijuana since 2014,” according to a criminal complaint.

In an affidavit, Smith is accused of supplying marijuana via aircraft to Byron Rye, and Carl Rye of Columbia, South Carolina.  The plane landed in Columbia multiple times at the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport, according to DEA Special Agent Doug McElwain.

Military.com reports that Smith brought the airplane, a twin-engine Cessna, under the business name of “The Praetorian” for use in humanitarian medical missions in Central America, according to aviation and court records.

The smuggling operation came to an abrupt halt after more than a three-year investigation.  According to Military.com, the case was developed by the DEA and its state Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes officers from Richland County, Columbia police, and the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office.  The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations also assisted.

This arrest follows a CBS Investigation in April that revealed the widespread drug use among Navy SEALs.

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