West Midlands slavery gang jailed after forcing victims to work in recycling facilities

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The squalid conditions victims were made to live in. Photo credit: West Midlands Police

A West Midlands gang who trafficked up to 400 people and forced them to work in recycling facilities and other jobs has been jailed for a total of more than 55 years.

The group of five men and three women lured vulnerable people from Poland with the promise of employment, money and accommodation.

They were made to work long hours in recycling centres, farms and turkey gutting factories and given as little as £20 per week by the traffickers who took the majority of their salaries.

In some cases the victims, who ranged from 17-years old and a man in his sixties, received 50p per hour.

Victims were crammed four to a room in a network of 30 vermin-infested properties and were often fed out of date food and forced to scavenge for dumped mattresses to sleep on.

West Midlands Police predict the gang made over £2 million between June 2012 and October 2017 and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle of designer clothes and high-end cars.

The group also claimed benefits in the victims’ names without their knowledge.

The trial judge described the trafficking conspiracy as the “most ambitious and extensive and prolific” modern day slavery network ever exposed in the UK.

Justyna Parczewska, from Beechwood Road, West Bromwich but originally from Wloclawek, welcomed new arrivals and made them cups of tea and food at her home.

The gang have been jailed for a total of more than 55 years

When one man died at an address in Queen’s Head Road, Birmingham, the 48-year-old insisted his ID and personal belongings be removed from his pockets before paramedics arrived in order to conceal his identity and not jeopardise their cruel exploitation.

A total of 92 victims were identified but police believe at least 350 more were used by the gang and either could not be traced, had left the country or were too scared to give evidence.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Dale, senior investigating officer, said: “What they did was abhorrent: they subjected victims to a demi-life of misery and poverty. They forced them into work and, if they objected, they were beaten or threatened with violence and told family members back home would be attacked.

“Some were told they would be taken to the woods to dig their own graves. One man who had an accident at work was forced back to the factory and denied hospital treatment, leaving him with long-term damage to his arm.”

Last year, the Gangmasters and and Labour Abuse Authority doubled its workforce to fight against modern slavery.

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