UK's largest-ever modern slavery ring smashed

The gang was led by the Polish-born Brzezinski family

Friday, July 5, 2019

A modern slavery ring that forced more than 400 people to work for as little as 50p a day while their masters earned £2 million has been smashed.

Police uncovered the criminal gang in the West Midlands, led by the Polish-born Brzezinski family who preyed on the homeless, ex-prisoners and alcoholics.

In some cases gang members waited outside the front gates of Polish jails to approach recently-released ex-cons.

The ring lured vulnerable people to the UK with promise of work, but then housed them in squalor.

If any of the victims complained about the lack of working toilets, heating or furniture they would be humiliated, threatened or beaten up.

Victims, aged 17 to over 60, were housed across at least nine different addresses in West Bromwich, Walsall, Sandwell and Smethwick, crammed up to four to a room, fed out-of-date food, and forced to scavenge for mattresses to sleep on.

The ring also infiltrated a recruitment agency, meaning work could be directly sourced, without raising suspicions with third parties.

Police image showing the conditions victims were forced to live in

Five men and three women have all been convicted of modern slavery offences and money laundering in Birmingham Crown Court.

Five members of the group have been sentenced to between 11 and four-and-a-half years in jail and the others are awaiting sentencing.

Judge Mary Stacey said their “degradation” of fellow human beings was “totally unacceptable”.

She said the defendants had subjected victims to a “demi-life of misery and poverty”, robbing them of their dignity and humanity “without care or regard for the rights of the individuals affected”.

"The hard truth is that the practice continues, here in the UK, often hiding in plain sight,” she said.

The slavery ring was smashed after an investigation by anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice.

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