OFF THE WIRE
BY: Mike McIntyre
A former high-ranking member of the Manitoba Hells Angels has been sentenced to 80 months in prison for his role in a major drug dealing network.
Thomas Winget, 27, pleaded guilty last week in British Columbia Supreme Court after the illegal Winnipeg-based operation was taken down by police during a 2009 undercover investigation.
Winget admitted to trafficking cocaine and participating in a criminal organization while serving as the sergeant-at-arms for the notorious outlaw motorcycle gang. He was one of 31 people arrested as part of "Project Divide", in which police used a secret agent to capture numerous drug and weapons deals on audio and video surveillance.
Police seized a total of 165 ounces of cocaine, 12 ounces of methamphetamine, 12,000 ecstasy tablets, one ounce of heroin and seven pounds of marijuana during their investigation, along with an undisclosed quantity of money, firearms and gang paraphernalia.
Crown attorney Chris Mainella told the Free Press Winget is the 29th accused to plead guilty. The remaining two are set to go on trial.
Winget was released on bail following his arrest and had been allowed to return to B.C., where he previously played in the Canadian Junior Football League. The Vancouver Province reported that Winget has done a number of speaking engagements to schoolchildren since his arrest, warning them of the dangers of the gang lifestyle and has created a website aimed at dissuading youths from following in his footsteps.
Winget told court last week he has turned his life around and is ashamed of the fact he resorted to selling drugs for a criminal organization in order to boost his financial bottom line.