American drug trafficking fugitive found living in Brampton with Canadian Citizenshipfor Several Years, arrested
A convicted drug trafficker found living in Brampton was able to become a Canadian citizen while on the lam from American authorities, CTV Toronto has learned.
Delroy McGowan, 43, was arrested by members of the Toronto Police Fugitive Squad the evening of April 21 after returning home from his job at a Vaughan rail yard.
According to a source, McGowan immigrated to Canada under the name Delroy Lowe, which was the name he lived under in Canada for years before being tracked down by the Fugitive Squad.
Court documents from the U.S. show McGowan was arrested by the Chicago Police Department's Postal Interdiction Team in 2001 for felony cannabis trafficking.
He was released on bail and, when he didn't show up for a court appearance, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to an affidavit sworn by a special agent with the FBI, authorities had reason to believe McGowan had fled to Florida.
In 2004, he was convicted in absentia of drug offences and sentenced to 12 to 60 years in prison.
In recent years, American authorities received information that McGowan had fled to his home country of Jamaica before immigrating to Canada under the name Delroy Lowe.
In 2014, CTV Toronto featured McGowan in a story about the most wanted fugitives believed to be living in the GTA.
By that time, according to a source, McGowan — under the name Delroy Lowe — had been a Canadian citizen for nearly three years.
That CTV story, according to police, led to a tip which led police to arrest McGowan last week.
McGowan has several family members living in the GTA, including a man who identified himself as an uncle and declined to comment when questioned about McGowan at his Brampton home Monday.
Citing "privacy concerns," Citizenship and Immigration Canada would not initially comment on the case. When asked in an e-mail how someone who is wanted on a warrant in the United States can become a Canadian citizen, CIC spokesperson Remi Lariviere wrote, "We can't speculate about what happened in this case."
His criminal past aside, McGowan seemed the epitome of an immigrant success story.
According to a source, he was employed as a conductor with CN.
Property records show that in 2014, McGowan and a woman believed to be his wife purchased their Brampton home for more than $500,000, with a down payment of nearly $75,000.
He was also a good neighbour, according to some who live on his street.
"He's awesome," said Mario, who lives across the street and declined to give his last name. "He helped me shovel snow after my surgery and just all around, a nice guy."
"Just come over, have a beer, chit chat, play with the kids, you know, always nice to my kids. He had nieces and nephews to come over and they would play," Mario said.
McGowan had told Mario he was from Jamaica, but never mentioned his time in the United States, he said.
Neighbour Hemant Bhatt described seeing a vehicle pull up to McGowan's home and "five or six cops coming out" before McGowan was arrested.
"How could that ever happen?" Bhatt said after being told about McGowan's past and subsequent immigration to Canada. "When you become a citizen, you go through a background check, I assume."
Bhatt noted that when he immigrated to Canada from India, via Kenya, he had to submit fingerprints.
Because CIC will not comment on McGowan's case, it is unclear whether McGowan was asked to submit fingerprints when he immigrated under the name Delroy Lowe. According to a police source who is familiar with the process, however, it is standard for immigration authorities not to run fingerprints against the U.S. database unless the immigrant is coming from the U.S.
McGowan immigrated from Jamaica, though it is unclear when.
When asked if permanent resident applicants have their fingerprints run through the U.S. database, CIC spokesperson Lariviere told CTV Toronto in an email that "Canada does not currently require permanent resident (immigrant) applicants to provide fingerprints as part of their application. As such, there are no automatic fingerprint checks against U.S. biometric holdings."
Toronto Police Det. Andrew Lawson, who heads up the Fugitive Squad, said he hopes the case will send a message to other fugitives living in the GTA.
"The Toronto Fugitive Squad has always and will continue to follow up on information pertaining to all investigations, no matter the time frame," Lawson said. "This is a great case that shows that we never stop looking for a fugitive."
McGowan appeared at the Brampton courthouse on Friday. He will be allowed to apply for bail before his extradition hearings. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 13.