A man said to be a former decorated U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA special agent has been arrested in connection with an ongoing national federal marijuana-smuggling investigation with major ties to Columbia.
James Dennis “J.D.” Smith, 49, was arrested Saturday in Charlotte. On the same day, two Columbia-area brothers, Carl Rye, 41, and Bryon Rye, 43, were picked up in a Rosewood Drive house by authorities.
All three are part of the same case. They are each charged with conspiring to distribute “at least 700 kilograms” (1,540 pounds) or more of marijuana since 2014, according to a criminal complaint. The charge carries a sentence of five to 40 years in prison.
Some of the marijuana 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,” according to the complaint.
Smith and the Ryes, shackled hand and foot and in orange jumpsuits, appeared Monday in federal court in Columbia for initial arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shiva Hodges. They are being held without bond.