Heartwarming Girl Scout cookie story takes unexpected turn

The man who spent $540 on Girl Scout cookies turns out to be a not-so-good Samaritan

February 27, 2019 - 6:01 pm

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WBBM NEWSRADIO/AP) — The heartwarming, viral story of a man's act of kindness and generosity to a Girl Scout troop has taken a dark turn.

The story reported Tuesday of a man who bought out a stand of Girl Scout cookies on Friday in Greenville, South Carolina - spending $540 - because he said he did not want the girls to have to stand outside in the cold any longer, has now taken a turn, with reports saying the man has been arrested on drug charges. 

News outlets report the man now identified as 46-year-old Detric Lee McGowan was arrested Tuesday in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) drug bust on charges including conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.

According to CBS News, the alleged criminal activities began "at least in or around 2016" and continued up until the date of the indictment.  An indictment issued last week said McGowan, also known as "Fat," is one of several suspects in an ongoing drug investigation. It said he and 10 other people conspired to import drugs from Mexico in late 2018. The U.S. Attorney's Office said authorities are still searching for one of the suspects.

McGowan was named in eight charges, according to the indictment:

- Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
- Conspiracy to import controlled substances.
- Conspiracy to commit bulk cash smuggling ($1,004,665.00).
- Interstate travel and transportation in aid of drug trafficking business.
- Possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin.
- Maintaining a drug-involved premise.
- Conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirement.
- Three counts of unlawful use of a communication facility.

McGowan stood before a judge Tuesday afternoon. He currently remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, but will face a bond hearing Friday. He is being held at a Spartanburg County detention center. It's unclear if he has a lawyer.

The arrest was the result of a long-term federal drug investigation, beginning last fall and spanning out of the state of South Carolina.

The DEA said McGowan is the same man who appeared in a photo that garnered thousands of views and shares online.

According to a Facebook post, by Troop 1574 leader Kayla Dillard, the man originally chose to buy seven boxes of cookies. He handed the girls $40 and told them to keep the change. 

The man then returned to the table set up outside a store and told the girls, "Pack up all your cookies. I'm taking them all so y'all can get out of this cold." The man spent $540 on Girl Scout cookies. Dillard did not get the man's name. The post has since been removed.

The vice president of recruitment and marketing for Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands, Karen Kelly, said the organization will cooperate with authorities. She said in a Tuesday statement, "Nobody was hurt. Nobody was threatened. We had no reason to believe that this man was anything other than one of our valuable customers that is helping Girl Scouts power awesome experiences through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. This is now in the hands of law enforcement and of course we will cooperate with authorities."

(WBBM Newsradio and The Associated Press contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)