2 Columbia men among 3 facing federal drug conspiracy charges

Updated: Jun. 20, 2017 at 11:29 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Three men have been arrested on federal drug charges after a raid on a house in Columbia this weekend.

Carl Rye, Byron Rye and James Dennis Smith, Jr. have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

A Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration requested arrest warrants for the Ryes and Smith filed in U.S. District Court last week, claiming they had possession and planned to distribute at least 700 kilograms of marijuana. According to the complaint, the DEA has been investigating the three men since August of 2014 on suspicion they were involved in distributing marijuana and steroids.

The complaint says a witness reported seeing Byron and Carl Rye packaging about $200,000 to be sent to Smith in the kitchen of Byron's home on Rosewood Drive in Columbia. The package was later seized in Indianapolis, IN. The package also included magazines that bore Byron Rye's name and address.

According to the complaint, Smith told agents at a document check at a Virginia airport that he owned a plane and operated under the business name, "The Praetorian." He said the plane was used for medical humanitarian missions in Central America. Investigators later learned the plane had landed in Columbia, SC "on multiple occasions," according to the complaint.

The complaint says agents connected Byron Rye accessing his safe-deposit box to times Smith's plane landed at Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport in Columbia.

Investigators say they also used tracking devices on vehicles driven by the Ryes, which led them to a storage business in Lexington and another in Aiken. Agents say they Ryes and their vehicles appear on the businesses surveillance video, according to the complaint.

Agents eventually got warrants to search one of the storage units and found deep freezers containing vacuum-sealed bags "which contained a green plantlike material believed to be marijuana," according to the complaint, "some of the vacuum-sealed bags had labels on them which had 'Medical Cannabis' . . . written on them." The complaint says they found about 28 pounds of marijuana in the storage unit.

On Saturday, investigators raided Byron Rye's home on Rosewood Drive and he and Carl were arrested.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday in federal court.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.