Officers Arrest Eight in Phelps Photo Probe

Sources: In pair of raids, paraphernalia, less than ounce of marijuana seized.

Feb. 11, 2009 — -- Authorities recently executed search warrants at two private homes in Columbia, S.C., and arrested eight people for marijuana possession, in connection with an investigation into the photo of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps holding a bong, ABC News has learned.

Armed Richland County Sheriff's Department officers entered at least one of the properties Saturday, Feb. 7, sources told ABC News.

Though eight people were arrested, less than an ounce of marijuana was confiscated by sheriff's deputies, the sources said.

For more coverage of the raids, watch "Good Morning America" Thursday at 7 a.m. ET.

One of the properties was identified by the sheriff's department as a location where marijuana was "frequently stored and consumed," according to the search warrant affidavit, which also said police searched trash from the property that had been left by the road for collection.

Sgt. M.A. Poole of the Richland County Sheriff's Department appeared before a judge Feb. 6 to request the search warrants.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Chris Cowan would not confirm the arrests, but said there is an ongoing investigation into whether Phelps or others broke the law during a party -- allegedly held in November 2008 -- where Phelps was photographed with a bong in his hands.

Property taken during one of the raids included computers, marijuana -- including a partially smoked joint -- a bong, a cell phone, a portable drive and a camera, according to the sheriff's inventory from the search.

Legal sources close to the men arrested denied reports that the bong allegedly used by Phelps was put up for sale on eBay. The exact whereabouts of that bong, or whether it was the one seized in the raid, could not be confirmed.

The legal sources also questioned why the sheriff has focused resources on a raid to arrest marijuana users when the city has experienced a spate of violent crime, including several armed robberies at ATM machines in recent weeks. According to The State, a local newspaper, there was a fatal shooting at a Bank of America ATM on Jan. 21.