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Czech human-trafficking gang jailed in Britain

Czech human-trafficking gang jailed in BritainFive Czech gang members have been sentenced to a total of more than 20 years in prison for human trafficking and slavery offences after they brought Czech men into Plymouth and treated them as slaves.

The defendants, all part of an extended Roma family, targeted vulnerable men and housed them in poor conditions while pocketing most of their wages and benefits.

Judge Ian Lawrie said they had treated them as "cash cows" to milk their benefits and wages.

He jailed gang leaders Petr Tancos and Ruzena Tancosova, both aged 36, for six and a half years each. Their cousin Martin Tancos, aged 37, was sentenced to prison for three years, and Martin's partner Katerina Kuriova, also 37, would be in jail for two years. Nela Dzurkova, Petr Tancos' partner, was locked up for two and a half years.

Judge Lawrie recommended to the Home Office that all five be deported upon their release.

All five were found guilty after an eight-week trial of trafficking men into Plymouth where they were housed in poor conditions including sleeping in a garage and even a cupboard.

Police said they freed eight men from the family's rented city homes in September 2014. It has taken three trials to finally convict them in the first prosecution of its kind in the South West.

The gang recruited desperate and vulnerable men and promised them a better life in Plymouth – but treated them as servants and pocketed most of their wages and benefits.

The Roma family, related by blood or marriage, put their victims to work in factories or at car washes and controlled their finances for four years.

The victims were never locked up, but most felt unable to break free without money, contacts or the ability to speak English.

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."
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