UK: Romani family from Czech Republic convicted of human trafficking and slavery
News server iDNES.cz reports that the BBC has reported that five members of a Romani family from the Czech Republic have been convicted of human trafficking and slavery. The gang of two men and three women, all between the ages of 28 to 37, lured Czech citizens to the UK and then forced them to work and live in shocking conditions through various threats.
News server Romea.cz reported in 2015 that the gang forced people from the Czech Republic to sleep in a cupboard under a staircase, in a garage, or on the ground and confiscated most of their wages. "They chose people on the streets of towns in the Czech Republic and promised them a new life in the United Kingdom," detective Stuart Cavin told the BBC, according to iDNES.cz.
According to a local daily, The Plymouth Herald, the five persons convicted are Růžena Tancošová, Petr Tancoš, Nela Dzurková, Martin Tancoš and Kateřina Kurejová. They told the court they were just helping their fellow countrymen settle in the British isles and find jobs or open bank accounts.
In actuality, the gang members treated people like slaves and confiscated most of their wages. The victims had to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, in factories, car washes, or as modern-day slaves in various households in Cornwall and Devon.
Josef Bukovinský, who managed to escape his captivity, previously testified to having been forced to work in a factory for up to 60 hours a week. He lived in the home of Růžena Tancošová, who controlled his bank account and would only give him 10 pounds every three or four months.
Tancošová and her sisters also forced Bukovinský to steal. "I would go into a shop, fill up a cart, and walk past the cashier without paying," he told The Herald.
The family members threatened to beat the 35-year-old man and slapped him several times. Police did not trace the slavers until two of their victims managed to escape and contact the authorities in 2014.
The police estimate that over the course of several years the group made hundreds of thousands of pounds. Investigation of human trafficking is a specialization of Romani police officer Petr Torák, who has worked for more than 10 years in England.
According to Torák, those who most frequently end up in the role of victims of forced labor are middle-aged men who have no family or social networks in their countries of origin and who frequently live on the street without jobs or any prospects of their situation improving. For that reason, they often accept offers of easy money that involve guarantees of housing and work, or sometimes work just in exchange for food.
Cases of exploited members of the Romani community also come to Torák's attention. "As far as Romani victims are concerned, most of them are young men, frequently from the ghettoes and settlements, who have been recruited directly from there," he said, noting that Romani people are also exploiters, as this current case shows.
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