About a dozen government SUVs showed up at a house in an Indian Land community recently to investigate a suspected drug-smuggling ring.
Neighbors in the Carolina Reserve community said they were scared when they saw the cars arrive.
"I thought someone was being held hostage," said one neighbor, who didn't want to give her name. “They all had their guns out. They just flew to the house. It was like I was watching NCIS on TV," she said.
Federal agents have been watching a group of eight people since last summer for drug smuggling, according to a search warrant obtained by The Herald’s news partner, WSOC-TV Channel 9.
The warrant details a plan to buy high-grade marijuana in California and bring it back to the Carolinas. Members of the group flew 47 times back and forth from Charlotte to San Francisco since last August.
The warrant said on each trip the courier would carry two large suitcases and check them before each flight. One man was stopped in February with both suitcases full of drugs. Another man was found carrying $97,000 in cash, with some of it stuffed into the front pocket of his shirt.
Investigators said a man who lives on Newport Drive in Indian Land was running the operation and financing the cross-country flights.
Neighbors told Channel 9 off camera that they thought something was going on with their neighbors because they drove expensive luxury cars, which didn't fit the neighborhood.
"That’s terrible," said another anonymous neighbor about the raid. "There goes our property value in this neighborhood."
Homeland Security requested two search warrants. One was executed on April 6 for four homes, nine people and four vehicles.
A second warrant was signed on April 15 for the house on Newport Drive in Lancaster County.
Channel 9 went to the house Thursday, but no one came to the door. A white BMW mentioned in the search warrant was parked outside.
A Homeland Security spokesman said no arrests have been made in this case, and because it's an ongoing investigation, they couldn't release how much money the group laundered or how many drugs were shipped.