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.
Military.com 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.