A man whose picture went viral for buying $540 worth of Girl Scout cookies so the young girls selling them wouldn’t have to stand in the cold has been arrested on federal drug charges.
Detric “Fat” McGowan, 46, was arrested in South Carolina on Tuesday by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on charges related to selling and distribution of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, according to court documents. The arrest was first reported by local station WSPA.
McGowan was part of what U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon called “a wide-ranging conspiracy” with several others to smuggle more than $1 million cash from South Carolina outside the U.S. to pay for drugs. McGowan faces a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted.
McGowan’s arrest came days after he made nationwide news for his generous and then-anonymous cookie purchase outside a store near Greenville, South Carolina.
On Friday, one of the girls’ mothers, Kayla Dillard, posted a photo on Facebook showing McGowan, who she didn’t identify by name, smiling with two of the girls. Dillard wrote that the man bought the cookies after telling the girls: ”‘Pack up all of your cookies. I’m taking them all so y’all can get out of this cold.’”
The warrant for McGowan’s arrest was issued three days before the Facebook post.
The arrest, said DEA spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell, “has nothing to do” with the viral photo. “It’s totally unrelated. Just bad luck on his behalf,” Truesdell told HuffPost.
McGowan’s defense attorney, Janis Hall, declined to comment on the case when reached by HuffPost.
“In my opinion, he is a very good-hearted person who did a very good deed,” Hall said by phone on Wednesday, referring to the cookie purchase.
The Girl Scouts will cooperate with authorities and had no reason to believe that McGowan was “anything other than one of our valuable customers,” Karen Kelly, vice president of recruitment and marketing for Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands, told The Associated Press.
McGowan remained jailed in Spartanburg County on Wednesday, records show.
Court documents show that McGowan has a previous record involving drug charges in Georgia and South Carolina in 2009 and 1997.
This article has been updated to include a comment from McGowan’s attorney.