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26th Jan, 2022

Broughton Astley man let gang use his property as cannabis factory

A BROUGHTON Astley man who allowed a gang to use his property as a cannabis factory has been given a suspended jail sentence.

It follows a huge covert operation by Leicestershire Police which lasted two years and saw over 50 people arrested.

In the summer of 2019 officers from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) 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.

At Leicester Crown Court, Ashok Kholia pleaded guilty at the beginning of a trial to allowing a premises to be used for the production of class B drugs.

He had been due to stand trial with Dean Saunders, who was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs.

Kholia, 59, of Grantham Avenue, Broughton Astley, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He will also have to complete 250 hours community service and be the subject of electronic monitoring between 7pm and 6am.

Saunders, 42, of Orton Close, Rearsby, was sentenced to three years in prison.

During the course of EMSOU’s operation into the organised crime group, they uncovered evidence which provided information on how far and wide their supply business operated.

When Kholia was arrested, a cannabis factory with more than 650 plants was discovered in a unit in Hinckley. Kholia 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 uncovered and evidence of cannabis production was found.

Saunders was identified as a wholesale customer for the gang. Surveillance revealed his regular interactions with members of the group and his role as a dealer.

Det Insp Lee Hunt from EMSOU said: “Drugs destroy lives and communities and through this operation we have taken down a large organised crime group who didn’t care about the impact of selling drugs.

“Those convicted ran a business-like operation and they all had a key role to play in the supply of controlled drugs onto the streets.

“Enforcement in 2019 saw us execute more than 50 warrants across the county, as well as in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Liverpool. More than 50 people were arrested during the operation.

“This was a significant operation for us but our work doesn’t end here. We know the supply of controlled drugs is a never-ending battle and there is always someone waiting to fill the gap left by others.

“Our efforts to stop the misuse of drugs will continue and we will carry out further operations of this nature to disrupt the criminal activity.”

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