Episode 026: Sam Smemo – From War on Drugs to War on Terror


Retired agent Sam Smemo served 26 years in federal law enforcement, 15 and a half years with the FBI and ten and a half years with the United States Marshals Service. After hunting dangerous fugitives during the early part of his career, once onboard with the FBI, Sam worked drug cases while assigned to the Philadelphia Division. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, he talks about a big marijuana shipment investigation that inadvertently resulted in the exoneration and release from jail of an innocent man wrongly accused of shooting a child during a drive by shooting. Identifying and bringing the real culprit to justice was a highlight of Sam’s career. But after witnessing the devastation caused by the tragic events of 9/11, Sam was compelled to transition from fighting the war on drugs to fighting the war on terror. He tells us about working on an extraterritorial case wherein the FBI and the American government desperately attempted to locate and rescue a U.S. citizen kidnapped in Saudi Arabia. Tragically, the businessman was executed by an Al Qaeda terrorist organization operating in the Arabian Peninsula.

Samuel Smemo, Jr.

Supervisory Special Agent (Retired)

08/16/1998 – 03/31/2014

IMG_2784 (1)








Below are links to newspaper articles about the drug and the extraterritorial cases Sam discusses during this interview:

Philadelphia Inquirer – 7/3/1999:  Girl, 11, Critically Injured In Shooting Nadya Aviles Was Outside Her House When She Was Hit By Bullets From An Ak-47

Shooting Cont.

Philadelphia Daily News – 5/9/2001:  DA admits wrong guy arrested He was jailed for 22 months in attempted killing of girl, 11

Al Qaeda deadline to kill U.S. hostage looms

Sam in Australia in 2007 representing the FBI at the Australian Federal Police’s “Management of Serious Crime Course.”








Ground Zero2
Seeing the devastation of 9/11 up close and personal compelled Sam to switch from working drug cases to joining the war on terror.












Quantico Range (second from the left)
Sam participating in firearms training while at the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA.








Quantico (receiving orders to Philadelphia)
Sam at Quantico receiving orders to Philadelphia (and not Florida).










Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for free subscription on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and other popular podcast apps. Her nonfiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives and her FBI corruption squad police procedural series featuring Special Agent Kari Wheeler are available wherever books are sold.

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