Former Fugitive Jailed After 30 Years at Large Speaks Out From Remand Centre

Ian Jackson MacDonald, 72, spoke to CTV News from the Winnipeg Remand Centre after his arrest on drug-smuggling charges dating back more than 30 years.

Yachts, planes, swimming pools and gold jewelry once marked his lifestyle, but have now been replaced by prison identification tags.

“I’d be quite happy if I could (have) died this afternoon,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald was arrested in Florida in January. He was brought to Winnipeg earlier in March after being extradited from the United States to face charges of conspiracy to import marijuana in Manitoba.

The charges stem from an RCMP investigation dating back to 1979.

It’s alleged that up to 225 kilograms of marijuana had been smuggled from Florida to Winnipeg in boats.

“None of that is true at all,” said MacDonald. “I had a nice home in Fort Lauderdale Beach and I bought and sold boats and that’s it.”

He said he’s only guilty of talking to a Canadian who came to his house, asking him about hauling drugs to Winnipeg.

MacDonald was originally taken into custody in Florida in 1980, but escaped.

He said he was able to get out thanks to a teenage security guard, who simply let him go.

“So I walked out and I’ve been gone ever since,” said MacDonald.

He later went by the name of Jack Hunter and ran an appliance store.

MacDonald was also facing charges in the U.S. for his escape, but they were dropped, allowing the marijuana case in Manitoba to proceed.

The marijuana smuggling case led to then-MLA Bob Wilson being impeached and convicted in 1980. During the investigation, officers even tapped phones at the legislature.

Wilson served seven years in prison, but always maintained his innocence and insisted MacDonald would clear his name.

CTV News asked MacDonald whether he thinks Wilson is innocent.

“Yes I do. Absolutely,” said MacDonald.

CTV News told Wilson about MacDonald’s response on Wednesday.

“I always prayed that (MacDonald) would tell the truth,” said Wilson. He hopes a new trial will now be possible.

MacDonald, meanwhile, said he has cancer and hopes to get back to Florida to be with his wife of 40 years.

“People my age should be home in bed,” he said. His case remains before the courts.

MacDonald’s next court appearance is set for March 28.

CLICK HERE to read more about the Bob Wilson case.



  1. Dragon Slayer on

    Manitoba Premier Lyons was a former Crown Prosecutor, so the real ‘conspiracy’ may have been a political ‘purge’ by the party’s right-wing faction!
    Real Life Film Noir (corrupt politicians & crooked cops in a legal-system feeding frenzy)

  2. Dragon Slayer on

    The ambitious/overzealous Crown Prosecutor thirty years ago is an architect of the Canadian “Drug War”.
    He is author of a ‘legal text’ “Drug Offenses in Canada” 1979, the year of the investigation and Wilson’s arrest.
    in 2003 and 2005 he presented a ‘paper’ at Commonwealth Conferences in Ireland and Australia “Convicting the Innocent: A Triple Failure of the Justice System”.
    Like Marc Emery’s persecution and imprisonment, Wilson’s also hds a political dimension.
    At the time he was a relatively young & hip ‘Red Tory’ MLA, who stood up in the Provincial Legislature to question the annual grant of the Law Society “Why should the richest members of society be getting money, when schools in my riding are being closed?” (his wife was a schoolteacher)
    Neo-Conservative Premier Sterling Lyon called Wilson into his office and said “These people are our friends… go ahead and make speeches, but don’t bring in a private member’s bill.”
    The trial testimony was by Police Officers (after Dzienski, we all know how untruthful Mounties in red Musical Ride costumes can be) and a ‘jailhouse informant’ (who ‘made a deal’ in exchange for immunity from prosecution and relocation to Beautiful British Columbia)

    Winnipeg Free Press:
    The chief prosecution witness in the drug conspiracy trial of Bob Wilson says he is “now paying a terrible price” for his actions… agreed to testify against Wilson and others in exchange for his freedom, and that of his common-law wife and son, now 19, says he sometimes wishes he too was convicted and sent to jail.
    “But at that point they had an awful lever over my head…Elsie going to jail, my son going to jail, my going to jail, losing everything I own… after the trial was over, I was feeling really (bad) about it… it brings tears to my eyes looking back on it. It was just a horrible experience.
    Had it happened the way it was supposed to have happened, when the deal was made with the RCMP, when they had everybody, then I would now be sleeping better at night.”
    …he believes Wilson turned out to be a “fall guy” in the drug conspiracy case because so many others charged with him remain free… he’s no longer sure the deal he made with the RCMP and federal prosecutors was a good one.
    “When the whole thing started it was supposed to have been against all of them.. At that point it probably would have been a good exchange, but the way it worked out I don’t know if it was or not.
    I think he is a fall guy in the sense that he ended up taking a harder fall than anybody else would have for the same thing. If Wilson wasn’t who he was, they certainly wouldn’t have made the deal with me… I tell you what the law can do. If they want you, they got you, once they put their minds to it. The last thing I want to do is to have any more encounters with the law.”

  3. Anonymous on

    I wonder how much this 30 year manhunt cost the Canadian and American tax payers! Especially since he is such a high risk offender, should just put him up with all the rapists and murderers! Seriously Canada, can we not find better things to do with our time and money then hunting down geriatric pot smuggler? Regardless of whether he did it or not, this is a bit ridiculous!

  4. Red Tory on

    Manitoba Justice/Legal System: a culture of indifference, prosecutors who want to win. The scandal is just beginning!

    Ottawa must bring back the the Prosecution’s “star” Witness who made a deal with the Crown? to the trial to face the old man!

    Then Canada can send this fabricated “criminal mastermind” back to Florida and his family.

    Get a refund from the Jailhouse Informant who colluded/conspired with the RCMP/Crown, and received immunity from prosecution as well as paid relocation to Beautiful? B.C. for thirty years!

  5. atlanta toker on

    He’s exactly right, people like him that are his age should be at home with his wife and not dealing with the stupidity of this matter. Any government in North America that would do anything other than send Mr McDonald home is no different than the Arab governments we see in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, or Tunisia. There is absolutely no difference. None..
    Good luck Mr McDonald.