DRUG dealers caught out by undercover police officers have been sentenced to a total of more than 16 years in prison.

The investigation led by Essex Police was launched amid concerns the supply of cocaine was rife within Colchester and violence was increasing.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how the operation, dubbed Operation Monaco, ran between June and December 2021 and involved undercover officers purchasing drugs from targeted individuals.

Among those sentenced yesterday was Adam Stephenson, 31, of St Leonard’s Road, Colchester, after police officers found 685 grams of cocaine stashed in a Deliveroo bag at his property.

Gazette: Stashed - drugs were found hidden in a Deliveroo bagStashed - drugs were found hidden in a Deliveroo bag

Richard Potts, prosecuting, said the force seized a “significant quantity” of designer footwear, jewellery and £25,000 in cash stashed in his sock drawer.

Stephenson admitted supploying Class A drugs and possessing criminal property, namely £25,000, was sentenced to six years, nine months imprisonment.

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Also sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, was Shane Dadds, 30, of Chase Court, Colchester, for being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

In July 2021, Dadds unknowingly supplied cocaine to undercover officers at the Royal Mortar Pub, Military Road, Colchester, before again facilitating a deal at Yates, Head Street.

Gazette: Raid - police seized drugs and money during searches in ColchesterRaid - police seized drugs and money during searches in Colchester

Officers also swooped in on Karlin Cavill, 25, of Old Road, Clacton, for advertising and supplying cocaine between April and October of last year.

Cavill was caught after inserting a sim card from a burner phone into his personal phone, leading officers to track his crimes before executing a search warrant.

Upon the conclusion of their investigation, the police descended on his property and found £2,000 in cash and, having seized his phone, realised he had illegitimately made at least £38,640 between April and October.

He being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment.

Gazette: Found - cash at a propertyFound - cash at a property

Also sentenced to three years, three months’ imprisonment yesterday was Benjamin Skelton, 32, of Shrub End Road, Colchester, after admitting supplying Class A drugs.

And Stephanie Szymanska, 34, of Wimpole Road, Colchester, after she admitted supplying cocaine, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

John Stone, 38, of Clacton Road, St Osyth, admitted offering to supply cocaine and possession of a Class A drug, and was banned from all pubs in the borough of Colchester for two years.