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Duo jailed for 10 counts of modern slavery

|News, International and organised crime

A couple who subjected victims to a life of misery and poverty by forcing them to work and spending their earnings, have been jailed for modern slavery offences. 

Maros Tancos, 45, and Joanna Gomulska ,46, trafficked at least 29 vulnerable people to the UK from Slovakia or Hungary on the promise of a better life.

Today (Wednesday 22 June) Tancos has been jailed for 16 years and Gomulska has been jailed for nine years at Bristol Crown Court.

From the moment they arrived in the UK, the victims were under the control of Tancos and Gomulska. The men and women would be taken to their new home, stripped of their identity documents and met with violence if they asked for money or food.

Victims were forced to work at Tancos’ car wash for free, finishing their shift and taken to other manual jobs with little or no break- and made to work when injured.

Their earnings were taken by Tancos and Gomulska, who gave the victims basic rations of food and kept them in poor living conditions. 

The pair used this money, not to feed or provide decent shelter for the victims, but on online gambling sites, flights and to entrap more victims.

Tancos and Gomulska, photographed at the car wash
Tancos (top) and Gomulska,
photographed at the car wash

Ruona Iguyovwe, Senior Specialist Prosecutor, said: “This is a truly harrowing case of exploitation spanning nearly a decade, where people were trafficked and subjected to a life of misery to line the pockets of two ruthless individuals.

“Referring to the house as a ‘gate to hell’, one victim’s account shows how they felt trapped, unable to seek help without identity documents, locked in the house and threatened.

“Gaining the victims’ confidence has been fundamental to this case, and a significant amount of work went in to caring for, and engaging with them, throughout the process. I commend every person who testified for their bravery.”

The CPS worked closely with partners here and abroad to get the case to court. Identifying at least 29 victims, the focus was securing evidence and gaining the victims’ confidence to keep them engaged and ensure they were comfortable with the unfamiliar justice process.

Many victims were able to give their evidence remotely, pre-recording their testimony and being cross-examined via video-link. This allowed those understandably reluctant, or unable to return to the UK, the chance to be part of this trial.

Building the case

The mobile phones seized when the pair were arrested by National Crime Agency Officers were full of incriminating data which corroborated the accounts of the victims.

The phones contained:

  • A list of pin codes to access the victims’ accounts
  • Images of bank cards
  • Employment records for the victims
  • Identity documents for the victims
  • Flight details  

As the victims had no access to their own accounts, the presence of these documents on Tancos and Gomulska’s phones, combined with banking analysis showing cash being withdrawn and transferred online, proved they were responsible.

Ruona Iguyovwe, Senior Specialist Prosecutor, continued: “Tancos and Gomulska took everything they could from the victims, depriving them of the most basic human needs and acting for their own gain.

“This has been a deeply distressing case for everyone who has worked hard to ensure these two face justice for the damage they have done to people who just wanted a better life.

“It was a long trial, but we have been able to hold them accountable for their horrific actions and secure justice for the victims”.

Notes to editors

The nature of crime is changing. The scale and complexity of organised crime is growing, driven by global movements of people and threats from new technologies. Read more about our Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate.

On 4 April 2022 at Bristol Crown Court Maros Tancos (16/6/76) and Joanna Gomulska (24/9/75) were found guilty of the below offences. 

  • TRAFFICKING OF ANOTHER PERSON INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR LABOUR EXPLOITATION, contrary to section 4(1)(a) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004.
  • Four counts of CONSPIRACY TO TRAFFIC PERSONS  INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM  FOR LABOUR EXPLOITATION, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. 
  • Two counts of CONSPIRACY TO ARRANGE OR FACILITATE THE TRAVEL OF PERSONS INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM WITH A VIEW TO EXPLOITATION , Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 
  • Two counts of CONSPIRACY TO REQUIRE ANOTHER TO PERFORM FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOUR, Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. 
  • CONSPIRACY TO ACQUIRE CRIMINAL PROPERTY Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. 

Today Maros Tancos has been sentenced to 16 years in prison and issued with a slavery and trafficking prevention order.

Joanna Gomulska has been sentenced to nine years in prison

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