A local businessman defence counsel described as the "smartest" member of the local Rock Machine biker gang was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison.
Todd Kenneth Murray, 44, received the longest prison sentence handed out to date to the 11 individuals rounded up by the RCMP at the end of January in a lengthy drug investigation dubbed Project Dilemma.
Murray got a longer sentence than Joseph John Strachan, president of the local Rock Machine chapter, who got a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty to several drug- and gang-related charges in a plea-bargain arrangement.
'It's up to you now to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life'
Court was told Wednesday RCMP raided Murray's home and workplace, Ken's Kustom Auto on Wall Street, on Jan. 30 and seized $300,000 in cash, a large cache of cocaine, handguns, ammunition and explosives.
In a plea-bargain arrangement, Murray pleaded guilty to several charges including trafficking cocaine in association with a criminal organization, trafficking firearms, possession of a loaded prohibited weapon and possessing explosives.
The RCMP raid effectively broke up the local chapter of the Rock Machine, taking all five of its members and several independent local drug dealers who worked with the gang into custody.
Of the 10 other individuals taken into custody by the RCMP raid, seven have pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from five to 91/2 years. Teagveer Singh Gill will be sentenced in late fall.
Queen's Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal was presented with a joint recommendation from Crown and defence counsel for a 12-year sentence.
Joyal said he found Murray played a key role in the small Manitoba biker gang, responsible for decisions on importing and distributing cocaine and personally dealing with suppliers in eastern Canada.
Joyal said Murray retained the support of his family and friends following his arrest and likely has a good future once he serves his time in prison.
"It's up to you now to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life," Joyal told Murray.
Defence counsel Roberta Campbell said Murray was an unlikely member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, adding his decision to join was made only recently. She said Murray turned to the Rock Machine in late 2011 after he was shot in the stomach and nearly killed during a home invasion.
Campbell said Murray feared his life continued to be in danger after the shooting and believed joining the biker gang would ensure his safety. "He took a wrong turn in dealing with a situation in a wrong way," Campbell said.
Campbell said Murray's key role in the biker gang fell to him by default. "Mr. Murray was holding (all the drugs, weapons and explosives) because he was the smartest one to do it," Campbell said.