Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

BlackBerry drug dealer gets seven years

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A British Columbia gang associate has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for a drug and weapons smuggling scheme that was done almost entirely on his BlackBerry.

Dan Hawkins, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in "Project Divide," a Manitoba-based undercover police sting operation that led to 33 arrests last December.

Crown attorney Chris Mainella told a Winnipeg courtroom how Hawkins used his wireless device -- which some users jokingly call "crackberries" because of their addictive nature -- to conduct his illicit deals with a secret police agent.

"It's very sophisticated, anonymous, not traceable to an individual user and very difficult for the police to catch," Mainella said Tuesday.

Hawkins wasn't an original target of the police project, which aimed to take down members and associates of the Hells Angels and their so-called puppet club, the Zig Zag Crew. But he entered the scene in early 2009 after police intercepted conversations which alluded to him being able to provide cocaine and weapons from the West Coast.

The agent, former Zig Zag treasurer Michael Satsatin, began to converse with Hawkins about a deal for 12 ounces of cocaine in exchange for $16,000. They first met in July 2009 to consummate the deal at the Moxie's restaurant in Linden Woods.

"Hawkins told the agent all subsequent communications would be via BlackBerry," said Mainella.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2010 B3

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