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Girl Scout Cookie Good Samaritan Accused Of Federal Drug Crimes

A sweet story that went viral has taken a dark turn.

Last week, a South Carolina mother posted on Facebook that a man bought some 120 boxes of Girl Scout cookies so that the children selling them could get out of the cold.

That same individual who bought the cookies has now been arrested, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Wade Sparks tells NPR. The man, identified as Detric Lee McGowan, was one of a group named in a 22-count federal indictment that included conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

McGowan has entered a plea of not guilty to the 10 counts he is implicated in, according to federal court records.

It's not clear where he was arrested, or whether the viral post praising the man's generosity assisted authorities in finding him. The arrest warrant was issued last Tuesday, while McGowan helped the Girl Scouts on Friday, according to The Washington Post.

The Facebook post, by mother Kayla Dillard, is no longer public and Dillard declined to comment. She did not name the man in her post.

According to CNN, on that cold night near Greenville, several Girl Scouts were selling cookies outside a supermarket. The man approached and first bought seven boxes. Then, he circled back.

"Pack up all of your cookies. I'm taking them all so y'all can get out of this cold," Dillard said in the Facebook post, CNN reported. The total came to $540.

"What an amazing soul. It was about 34 degrees outside that night and we were there for about two hours already before he came," Dillard told CNN. "We all were shocked. The girls were very excited and thankful."

After the news of McGowan's legal troubles, the local Girl Scouts organization stressed that no troop members had faced any danger.

"Nobody was hurt. Nobody was threatened," Karen Kelly of Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands told Greenville News. "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."

The partially redacted indictment details a years-long conspiracy to import and distribute drugs allegedly involving McGowan and 10 other defendants. It says that McGowan and his co-conspirators used a property in Mountville, S.C., to manufacture, store and distribute drugs going back to 2016.

The group allegedly conspired to bring in drugs from Mexico and take more than $1 million out of the U.S.

According to The Associated Press, McGowan is being held at a detention center in Spartanburg County.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.