Columbia, SC — In a major display of hypocrisy, a CIA agent was charged this week running a massive drug smuggling operation out of North Carolina. James Dennis “J.D.” Smith, 49, was arrested Saturday in Charlotte in connection with a massive and ongoing national federal marijuana smuggling investigation.

Smith, a former decorated U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA special agent, 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.

As CBS News reports, Smith, who served 16 years as a Navy SEAL, was awarded 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.

The company reports that Smith had not been there in over five years.


In the criminal affidavit, Smith is accused of supplying marijuana via aircraft to Bryon Rye, 43, and Carl Rye, 40, 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. reports that 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.

Some of the marijuana that was being trafficked was actually legally grown in the United States, coming from California, which read, “Unlawful to redistribute.”

The smuggling operation came to an abrupt halt after more than a three-year investigation into 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 and the tailing of suspects, according to court documents.

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A massive SWAT raid was carried out on Saturday that brought down Byron Rye. A dozen unmarked cars and heavily armed agents blasted a hole in Rye’s door around 4 p.m. as neighbors watched in awe.

“I was like, what’s going on?” a neighbor, Pam Moore said. “SWAT guys were in their full gear on the edge (of the wall in front of the house). I think they were trying to protect the scene.” Moore said she also saw a box outside the home that read “DEA Evidence,” according to

Aside from the irony and hypocrisy of a CIA agent smuggling marijuana, the fact that this operation would’ve been entirely legal in several other states shines some much-needed light on the lunacy and waste of resources that is the war on drugs.

According to, 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.

For three years — 1,095 days or 26,280 hours — multiple highly paid DEA agents, deputies, police officers, and FBI and DHS agents collected their exorbitant salaries to bust a man for transporting a harmless, yet highly beneficial, plant across the country.

Millions of dollars were squandered for the sole purpose of arresting three men selling a plant to willing customers that is legal in some form in over half the country.

Even more ironic is the fact that the marijuana that was confiscated would’ve more likely than not helped to curb North Carolina’s horrid opioid problem.

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As the Free Thought Project has pointed out in multiple articles, studies across the United States are showing that cannabis obliterates the opioid crisis.

With their massive push against marijuana, it is no wonder that North Carolina has 4 cities in the top 20 of the entire country for opioid overdoses.

While the CIA agent’s hypocrisy is glaring enough for being a state agent dealing in an illegal substance, his actions had no victim. The same cannot be said for those who enforce the war on drugs.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • Paul Escudero

    Keep up the good work Matt.

  • Aphatgurl

    Can you name the states in which you claim this would have been legal? I thought not, BS article…

    • Dean Woodlief

      Marijuana is is legal in Colorado, Wash and Oregon so do your research before you post something and look stupid

      • Bill the eighth

        Agreed Dean, and don’t forget Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, with more to follow.

        Aphatgurl, you are basically clueless, BS post.

  • Aphatgurl

    Per article:
    Smith, a former decorated U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA special agent, 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.
    Now which states is this distribution legal?

    • Amor Terra

      It is legal to distribute marijuana in every state where marijuana is legal. How hard is that? Not to mention that this is hardly the point of the article.

  • Aphatgurl

    “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.”
    Do any states 420 friendly allow this? open distribution outside the state it was grown? Nope

  • Nullifidian

    Bad timing. If this were cocaine and it was the mid-80s, he’d have probably been promoted.


    The D.E.A and C.I.A. use Mexico like a roll of toilet paper.It is they who are guilty of the war South of the border. The Authoritarians are trying to use the drug war and law enforcement to seize power. ,By making cannabis and pain medication available and legal Mexico and other countries can quickly end and win the war.Mexico should just kick the D.E.A. out of their country.The drug war will go away with them. Mexico and Canada are not the only ones who can win the drug war.. Several other countries have as well. Most greedy politicians would sell their own greedy mothers for a few greedy US law enforcement pay-offs. Each nation has their own traitors.

    See ya! in Mexico.