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Man gets 5 years for cocaine trafficking

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A local man targeted by an RCMP drug investigation was given a five-year sentence.

Patrick La, 26, pleaded guilty to a single count of cocaine trafficking this morning.

La was one of 11 people rounded up by the RCMP earlier this year in Project Dilemma, a five-month investigation of the drug trade in Winnipeg.

The RCMP used a member of the Rock Machine biker gang as a paid undercover agent, setting up deals with his former biker pals and other dealers, like La.

The biker-turned-police-agent is now in the witness protection program, somewhere outside of Manitoba.

Federal prosecutor Sadie Bond said La was contacted twice by the biker, selling him 9 ounces of cocaine the first time and then half a kilogram of cocaine in the second deal.

There was a joint, prosecution-defence recommendation on the sentencing term, based in part on La's early guilty plea.

Defence counsel Crystal Antila said La's arrest surprised his family and co-workers, adding it appears while employed as a mobile phone store manager he was leading a secret double life as a local cocaine dealer to improve his personal financial circumstances.

La made an apology to the court, explaining his drug dealing as simply doing a favour for the undercover agent, who was a longtime friend.

Justice Chris Martin said he didn't believe La's apology was sincere, adding that it appeared to him from La's use of words and body language he was trying to "outsmart the system."

Martin said that based on the amount of cocaine he sold, La must have been a well established dealer, describing him as a gangster who shamed his family.


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