One of the highest profile criminals arrested during Project Deplete has pleaded guilty.

Under a joint sentencing recommendation, former Hells Angels member Billy Bowden was handed an eight-year sentence for drug trafficking Friday.

The judge accepted the joint sentencing recommendation Aug. 31, under which Bowden has seven years and five months left to serve.

Bowden was among multiple people arrested as part of Project Deplete in February. The project was a long-term investigation by the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force.

“At this point when he actually got arrested, at the very end of this, he was already in the process of trying to change his life,” said defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx.

Bowden, 37, was arrested for selling a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover agent.

In court, the Crown described how Bowden, a father of two, scheduled most of his drug negotiations in St. Vital, including at the Glenwood Community Club and at a bubble tea shop.

Pinx argued the undercover agent persuaded Bowden to sell the kilo and that his client was targeted at a time when he was trying to improve his life, such as through enrolling at Winnipeg Technical College.

The judge expressed skepticism over the defence’s argument, saying he had little doubt that Bowden had “intimate knowledge” about Winnipeg’s drug trade.

Pinx told CTV News that Bowden had been longtime friends with the person who turned out to be the undercover agent.

Bowden will also have a double lifetime weapons ban under the sentence. He previously had another weapons ban for a manslaughter case for the death of a man in 2007 at a Winnipeg nightclub.

Bowden served two years for his role in the stabbing at the Empire Cabaret nightclub that killed Jeff Engen.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley