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Russian Court Sentences 36 Members Of Criminal Group

TOLYATTI, Russia -- A Samara Oblast court has sentenced 36 members of one of Russia's largest-known organized crime groups in the city of Tolyatti, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The members of the criminal group were convicted of drug-related crimes and collectively received some 400 years' jail time.

Pavel Starostin received an 18 1/2-year sentence while the others received between 10 and 17 years in jail at the court session on November 30.

Some property belonging to the group has been valued at 50 million rubles (about $1.72 million) and was confiscated by officials.

Investigators said the criminal group has been operating in Tolyatti for more than 10 years.

Between 2002 and 2006, the group is believed to have distributed some 400 kilograms of heroin in the city and reportedly earned tens of thousands of dollars per day from drug sales.

A large truck had to be used to transfer all the documents from the case against the 36 defendants into the courtroom.

The group's reputed leader, Sergei Sudakov, is still at large.