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Daughter pleads for convicted smuggler to be able to return home to U.S.

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The oldest daughter of Ian Jackson "Whitey" Macdonald made what could be her last plea today for her father to go home to die.

The 73-year-old convicted marijuana smuggler is confined mostly to a bed at Fred Douglas as he serves every minute of a two-years-less-a-day conditional sentence for his part in a 30-year-old international dope smuggling scheme that was first shut down by RCMP in 1980.

Following his initial arrest in Florida, Macdonald complained of angina pain and was taken to hospital. He fled while the guard was preoccupied.

He wasn’t heard of again for about 30 years when he was arrested by U.S. Marshalls and returned to Canada to answer to a charge that he spearheaded a series of deals in which he’d ship 15-kilogram bales of marijuana to Canada, using a network of associates. The drugs had been brought in from Colombia.

Macdonald was tracked down by U.S. Marshals in January 2011 to the Florida town of Homosassa where he was living with his wife under the name Jack Hunter.

Within months, he had been extradited to Canada.

The same case saw MLA Bob Wilson impeached and kicked out of office -- the first and only time that's happened in Manitoba. Wilson was convicted by a jury and sentenced to seven years in prison. Wilson has always said he was innocent.

Macdonald’s medical records show he’s now wracked the prostate cancer, heart disease and the slow loss of his mind. In the past five months he’s lost about 50 lbs.

His daughter Lisa Alexander told reporters today she wants her dad released by Canadian authorities so that he can return to his Pennsylvania home — she says he has a valid green card — so  he can be with his wife of about 40 years.

"It’s shocking to me," Alexander said. "It’s an over 30-year-old case. He’s sick. He’s dying, and I think he needs to go home."

To date federal and provincial officials have been loath to release Macdonald.

Alexander also produced a document that reportedly shows in the late 1970s, her father was an informant with the U.S. Customs Service, providing "reliable information in the area of large scale narcotics smuggling." The letter, addressed to the director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Miami, Fla., was written by Michael Wewers, now retired from the U.S. Customs Service.

Alexander said this information, unknown to Canadian authorities until now, shows that her father should have never been arrested in the first place, let alone convicted and put under house arrest.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

This video originally ran in May 2012

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