Ex-Navy SEAL and CIA Agent Busted in Weed Smuggling Operation

Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images

James Dennis Smith Jr., who served 16 years as a Navy SEAL as well as a CIA special agent, was arrested recently in Charlotte, North Carolina and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute over 1,540 pounds of weed.

Smith, 49, the proud recipient of a bronze star during his tour in Iraq and a Special Operations Medic of the Year Award, is accused of involvement in a major marijuana smuggling operation with ties to South Carolina.

In an affidavit, the DEA describes Smith as supplying marijuana via aircraft to two other men, Bryon and Carl Rye of Columbia, South Carolina. All three are part of the same case and are being held without bond.

Smith, 49, stated he bought the aircraft to support medical humanitarian missions in Central America.

Some of the weed seized in a storage unit belonging to Carl Rye was apparently legally grown medical marijuana and came from California. It was marked “Unlawful to redistribute.”,

Smith, according to the complaint, supplied the Rye brothers with weed, which they sold in South Carolina.

The arrest of Smith and the Rye brothers climaxed a three-year investigation in which the DEA and other law enforcement agencies went all out to lay the groundwork for the bust.

They used airplane records, safe deposit box records, text message records, vehicle electronic tracking devices, video surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing dogs, GPS cellphone tracking, still photographs and plain old-fashioned stakeouts, as well as tailing the suspects, reported the Slate.

This arrest comes on the heels of a CBS News investigation this past April that revealed widespread drug use among Navy SEALs.

The charges against Smith and the Rye brothers carry a sentence of five to 40 years in prison.

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