A human trafficking gang who forced victims to work at recycling facilities, among other jobs in the West Midlands, has been jailed.
Now reporting restrictions have been lifted, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) released details of the prosecution at Birmingham Crown Court of eight Polish nationals.
Three people remain to be sentenced after five other gang members were given jail sentences earlier this year.
The CPS estimated that around 300 victims were lured into forced labour while the gang made around £2.46m by stealing their wages and benefits.
Details of the traumatic experiences endured by the victims have also been released. In one case, a man and a woman were recruited from Poland with the promise of jobs earning £130 a week plus free food and accommodation.
The CPS said: “They were made to sleep with nine others in a four-bedroom house in the UK with no heating or hot water. They were paid just £20-£40 for a week made up of 12-hour days in food processing and recycling plants. They were forced to ask the traffickers for loans.”
The woman was threatened that her bones would be broken if she refused to work.
Mark Paul, head of the complex casework unit for CPS West Midlands, said: “This is the largest modern slavery prosecution of its kind in the UK and perhaps in Europe.
“The scale of the operation was truly staggering, with millions of pounds netted by the crime group as a result of their callous and systematic exploitation of vulnerable members of the Polish community.
“Eighty-eight victims came forward but the investigation revealed in excess of 300 other probable victims.
“Vulnerable men and women were recruited off the streets in Poland with the promise of a better life, only to be cruelly exploited and trapped into a desperate cycle of dependency with nowhere else to go.”
cps chowaniec and zmuda
On 22 February 2019, Marek Chowaniec (pictured), 30, Marek Brezinski, 29, and Natalia Zmuda (pictured), 29, were each found guilty of people trafficking and forced labour offences.
On 26 June 2019, Ignacy Brzezinski and Wojciech Nowakowski were convicted for their involvement, Jan Sadowski pleaded guilty at the beginning of trial two on 23 April 2019.
In total, eight defendants have been convicted for their role in the conspiracy across two trials at Birmingham Crown Court.
More details to follow