Two Polish criminals convicted of human trafficking were sentenced to a total of six years imprisonment in Sheffield yesterday after pleading guilty to trafficking offences.
Lukasz Adamowicz and Jerzy Bala were members of a highly organised criminal gang running one of the UK's largest human trafficking operations.
They lured workers to the UK from Poland on the promise of paid work and a better life by placing advertisements in Polish-language newspapers and on websites.
In reality, the workers were forced to work up to 12 hours a day and then housed in a derelict property at night, unable to leave.
When workers responded to the ads, they were asked to pay money up front for accommodation and the necessary documentation they would need to work in the UK -- on average between £300 and £500 each.
Then, upon arrival in the UK, the workers would be picked up from the airport and taken to the Halcar Tavern, Carwood Grove in Sheffield, where they had to share cramped and squalid conditions.
Adamowicz and Bala would arrange for the workers to be taken to and from work but wouldn't pay them. After a couple of weeks of unpaid work, gang members would turn up at the Halcar Tavern with baseball bats and forcefully evict the migrants under threat of physical violence.
The immigration crime team estimates the pair, based in the Burngreave area of Sheffield, lured around 130 Polish nationals to the UK in this way over a period of two years.
Detective Sergeant Alisdair Duncan said:
"This was one of the worst cases of exploiting vulnerable workers I've seen in the UK. The sentencing today of this ruthless gang shows that the UK Border Agency's immigration crime teams are playing a vital role in tackling those involved in this type of criminality.
"We welcome the judge's comments that those who exploit others will face a custodial sentence."
UK Border Agency regional director Jeremy Oppenheim warned:
"This was a very serious case involving an unscrupulous gang. Trafficking can involve legal and illegal workers, exploiting the vulnerable as well as undermining legitimate businesses and the UK taxpayer.
"Let today's sentences send a loud warning to those either thinking about or involved in organised crime: our immigration crime teams will identify you, investigate you and bring you to justice."