Harborough district man caught up in a huge nationwide drug-dealing racket has been handed a suspended jail sentence

He was arrested after two of his container units were turned into major cannabis factories

Friday, 12th November 2021, 4:06 pm
Ashok Kholia was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Leicester Crown Court.

A Harborough district man caught up in a huge nationwide drug-dealing racket has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Ashok Kholia, 59, was arrested and appeared in court after two of his container units were turned into major cannabis factories, it’s emerged today.

Kholia, of Grantham Avenue, Broughton Astley, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Leicester Crown Court.

The convicted criminal will also have to carry out 250 hours community service and be subjected to electronic monitoring between 7pm and 6am every night.

Kholia was seized after a massive two-year police surveillance operation - which saw over 50 people arrested - was launched by regional detectives.

Det Insp Lee Hunt, from East Midlands Special Operations Unit, 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.”

In the summer of 2019 officers from the specialist police squad detained over 50 people involved in the supply and distribution of class A drugs.

In 2020 “three of the main offenders” were convicted and given long jail terms.

Now Dean Saunders has been found guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs at Leicester Crown Court.

Saunders, 42, of Orton Close, Rearsby, Leicestershire, was locked up for three years.

And Kholia, who was also due to stand trial, pleaded guilty at the beginning of the case to allowing a premises to be used for the production of class B drugs.

He was sentenced on Wednesday November 3, said Leicestershire Police today.

Undercover detectives “uncovered evidence which provided information on how far and wide their supply business operated”, said police.

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

He admitted he was the landlord but claimed he “had no idea what it was being used for”.

A second container leased by Kholia in Enderby, near Leicester, was also targeted by officers and “evidence of cannabis production found”.

Saunders was a wholesale customer for the organised crime gang.

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

Det Insp Lee Hunt added: “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,” said the senior detective.

“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.

“We will carry out further operations of this nature to disrupt the criminal activity.”