Nine jailed for recruiting Latvian victims in modern slavery abuse operation

Nine gang members who trafficked vulnerable Latvian men and women to Derby have been jailed for more than 33 years.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) revealed in a statement members of the gang recruited their victims in Latvia on the promise of well-paid work and a better life in the UK.

But when they arrived in Derby, victims were put up in poor accommodation, slept on mattresses infested with bed bugs and made to work long hours for little or no pay.

A total of 28 victims were identified, with more than half of them providing court evidence about the conditions they were forced to live in.

Six warrants were executed in Derby in September 2017, with six arrests made and 10 victims rescued.

Five arrests were made in Riga and Derby this February, following identification of the gang members responsible for recruiting the victims.

Ringleader Ainars Pelcis of Rutland Street, Derby, was jailed for five-and-a-half-years. Magdalena Kleina, of the same address, was given the same sentence.

Ilgvars Pelcis, of St James Road, was jailed for three years and eight months. Jolanta Pelce and Karlis Aleksandrovs of Patmore Square were both given a two-year sentence.

Four other defendants who were arrested in Latvia were also handed significant jail sentences: Karens Pelcis and Madara Stromane were each jailed for six years; Andris Krauklis was sentenced to 15 months, while Imitra Didzus was given 14 months in jail.

Aleksandrovs, Pelce, Krauklis and Didzus were all released from custody, having been jailed since their arrest.

All nine defendants were subject to slavery and trafficking prevention orders, preventing them from committing similar crimes in the future.

In passing sentence at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday 7 November, Judge James Sampson said: “What is clear from the evidence is that the defendants are thoroughly greedy and dishonest and clever.

“They had an astute understanding of their victims, who had low expectation of life. One was thankful of the bed he shared with another man. Conditions were squalid by our standards.”

The GLAA supported Derbyshire Police with the human trafficking case, which began in early 2017, along with co-operation between agencies both in the UK and in Europe.

The operation was supported by the State Police of Latvia, the Latvian Ministry of Justice, the National Crime Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service.

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