Loughborough Echo

Drug dealer part of big organised crime group

- News Reporter By DAVID OWEN

A drug dealer who was part of an organised crime group has been jailed.

Dean Saunders, from Rearsby, pictured, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs such as cannabis after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

The 42-year-old, of Orton Close, was sentenced to three years in prison during a hearing at the same court.

A police spokesman said: “In the summer of 2019, officers from East Midlands Special Operations Unit arrested more than 50 people involved in the supply and distributi­on of class A drugs.

“In 2020, three of the main offenders were convicted and sentenced to substantia­l terms in jail.

“After a trial at Leicester Crown Court, Saunders was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs and sentenced to three years in prison.

“This follows a huge covert operation spanning two years.”

A second man, Ashok Kholia, was also due to stand trial but pleaded guilty to allowing a premises to be used for the production of class B drugs.

The 59-year-old, of Grantham Avenue, Broughton Astley, was sentenced on November 3 to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

He will also have to complete 250 hours of community service and be the subject of electronic monitoring between 7pm and 6am.

Police said during the course of the operation into the organised crime group, they uncovered evidence which provided informatio­n on how widely their supply business operated.

When Kholia was arrested, a cannabis factory with more than 650 plants was discovered in a unit in Hinckley.

He initially claimed he was the landlord and had no idea what it was being used for.

A second container leased by Kholia in Enderby was also later uncovered and evidence of cannabis production was found.

Saunders was identified as a wholesale customer for the group,.

Surveillan­ce revealed “regular interactio­ns with members of the group and his role as a dealer”, police said.

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