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Former Navy SEAL arrested for drug smuggling

A former Navy SEAL is facing federal criminal charges for his ties to a major marijuana drug smuggling operation.

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

James Dennis "JD" Smith Jr. was arrested Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina. He's charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least 700 kilograms (over 1,540 pounds) of marijuana, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.

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. A company official told CBS News that the firm had not heard from or employed Smith for the past five years.   

In an affidavit, DEA Special Agent Doug McElwain describes Smith 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 McElwain.

Smith said he purchased the aircraft to support medical humanitarian missions in Central America during a 2014 document check at the Manassas Airport in Virginia.

Smith's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday in the South Carolina District Court.

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