Consider it one of the more comic scenes in an $850 million drug-smuggling saga that rocked the South Carolina Lowcountry in the early 1980s.
A trusted neighbor is on top of a 20-foot ladder in his back yard on Calibogue Cay. It’s a quiet, dark street where residents of one of Hilton Head Island’s most coveted addresses are dazzled by sunsets that silhouette docks reaching into Calibogue Sound.
On this autumn day in 1980, the neighbor, Wallace E. “Wally” Butler Jr. — a successful real estate agent and former Sea Pines vice president — is hanging netting from one tree to another.
Somehow it would keep neighbors from peering in on the comings and goings of a new group that also coveted that address.
They would use a dock there to unload 24,000 pounds of marijuana in three separate shipments by sailboat.
Butler, then in his late 40s, was not a willing participant at first.
Maybe he was lured by the quick money — up to $100,000 a pop for providing an off-load site, something he did more