Former Whistler man turned over to U.S. to face 30-year-old drug charge 

A former Whistler Secondary girls basketball coach has been taken into custody by U.S. officials on an outstanding warrant for trafficking cocaine 30 years ago in Chicago.

Steven Iwami, a.k.a. Steven Tanaka, was seized Jan. 24 at his Kitsilano home in Vancouver by Vancouver Police and Canada Immigration officials on immigration violation charges stemming from his U.S. conviction.

He was handed over to American law enforcement agents and is now being detained in a U.S. holding area, near Seattle, before being assigned to a prison.

Iwami, 52, was convicted in July 1972 in U.S. District Court in Chicago of trafficking cocaine and sentenced to five years in a U.S. federal prison.

He remained free on bail while appealing his conviction. When he didn’t show up to start serving his sentence in May 1973 a warrant was issued for his arrest.

It’s believed he began living in the Lower Mainland as early as 1976.

"This is really, really, really, a shock," said a Whistler parent whose daughter was coached by Iwami.

"From our point of view as a family he is a wonderful man, and ultra conservative.

"He gave more to the community than the community ever gave to him.

"I find (the conviction) difficult to believe. He was a strict person about himself. A non-drinker. He gave 400 per cent of his time volunteering to coach basketball.

"He made my daughter into a basketball player. She had talent but he spotted her and developed it.

"He is a tremendous individual, very hard working. I would assume a model citizen."

For the last two school years Iwami has coached at Brookswood Secondary in Langley.

Prior to that he coached on the North Shore.

His daughter graduated from Whistler Secondary in 1999 and her mother still lives in the resort. Neither could be reached for comment at press time.

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