EIGHTEEN people will be sentenced following a major operation into drug dealing in East Lancashire.

On Monday (September 20), Preston Crown Court heard details about Operation Florence, which saw several people arrested and charged for a variety of drug dealing and conspiracy charges.

The case centres around the supply of cocaine and cannabis in East Lancashire.

As part of the investigation, a luxury villa in Marbella was searched.

Due to social distancing measures currently in place at the court, the defendants are being dealt with in batches of four - the maximum number of defendants each dock can currently accommodate.

They are: Usman Akhter, 36, Tariq Ajaib, 49, and Craig Hollins, 47, all of Sarah Street, Darwen; Ardit Prahmnai, 21, of Astbury Close, Darwen; Rory Compton, 29, of Ash Grove, Darwen; James Burrows, 21, of Plantation Road, Blackburn; Joseph Ginley, 35, of Milking Lane, Darwen; Mark Jeal, 36, of Pilmuir Road, Blackburn; Samuel Howard, 24, and Clare Lester, 24 - both of Duckworth Street, Darwen; Jack Beeke, 27, of Church Terrace, Darwen; Michael Ryan Young, 29, of Alexandra Mews, Blackburn; Ellis Gorman, 26, of Holden Fold, Darwen; Jessica Humphreys, 21, of Dominica Avenue, Darwen; Liam Martyn, 27, of Barnes Avenue, Dronfield; Mark Hopwood, 28, of Shephard Close, Ellesmere Port; Shaheed Virmani, 27, of Warren Drive, Manchester; Kieren McKenna, 35, of Griffin Close, Burnley.

The sentencing exercise is expected to conclude on Wednesday, when we will provide further update.