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Five gang members sentenced to a total of 20 years for slavery offences

31/10/2016

Five Czech gang members have been jailed for human trafficking and slavery offences after they brought vulnerable people into the country and then made them live in inhumane conditions as they paid off imposed debts.

Their trial was the first time a Czech prisoner was transferred to the UK to give evidence and a further witness was able to testify direct from a court in the Czech Republic.

Ruzena Tancosova, Petr Tancos, Nela Dzurkova, Martin Tancos and Katerina Kerujova were convicted on Monday, 24 October at Plymouth Crown Court. Today (31 October) they were jailed for a total of more than 20 years and the judge also imposed Serious Crime Prevention Orders on Ruzena Tancosova and Petr Tancos.

The gang trafficked people from the Czech Republic to the United Kingdom. Upon arrival the victims lived in squalid conditions and were then forced to work in a car wash and at a meat packing factory in order to pay off debts which their traffickers claimed they owed.

Ann Hampshire, Senior Crown Prosecutor in the CPS South West Complex Casework Unit, said:

"This has been a challenging and complex matter to investigate and prosecute, requiring international co-operation between criminal justice agencies in the UK and the Czech Republic. This multi-agency, international approach helped us to build a strong prosecution case, ultimately resulting in these convictions.

"I would like to thank all those who have supported the prosecution of this case and pay tribute to the courage of the victims in coming forward and putting their trust in the authorities.

"The defendants are guilty of the organised exploitation and manipulation of a number of vulnerable victims over a prolonged period. The group cynically targeted people who might not immediately be noticed as missing.

"They were then treated as commodities to be used however the defendants saw fit. They were forced to live in squalid conditions, whilst being put to work to pay off imaginary debts they were told they had incurred."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. Ruzena Tancosova, 36, of South View Terrace - found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for the purpose of exploitation, requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour and acting as a gangmaster. Sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment.

  2. Petr Tancos, 37, of South View Terrace - found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for the purpose of exploitation, requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour. Sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment.

  3. Nela Dzurkova, 28, of South View Terrace - found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for the purpose of exploitation. Sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment.

  4. Martin Tancos, 37, of Wolsdon Street - found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for the purpose of exploitation and acting as a gangmaster. Sentenced to three year's imprisonment.

  5. Katerina Kurejova, 37, of Wolsdon Street - found guilty of conspiracy to traffic for the purpose of exploitation. Sentenced to two years imprisonment.

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