Roma human trafficking gang arrested in Poland and UK
PR dla Zagranicy
As many as 31 Polish citizens have been arrested following a two-year investigation by British and Polish police into a human-trafficking network.
It is alleged that gang-members, predominantly Roma from the western Wielkopolska region, had been involved in a sophisticated tax-scam that saw 200 people lured to Britain with the promise of work.
On arrival in the UK, it is alleged that the prospective workers had their identities stolen by the gang.
Some 2 million pounds (10.1 million zloty) in benefits have reportedly been funnelled back to Poland to date.
“In the past we were used to dealing with cases where people were trafficked for prostitution or for slavery,” said Monika Sokolowska of Poland's Central Unit for Trafficking in Human Beings, who was quoted in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
She noted that this “new form of trafficking” is becoming increasingly commonplace.
The gang reportedly targeted individuals with alcohol or mental health problems.
Once the necessary documents had been signed in the UK, the victims were left to fend for themselves.
Some 200 witness statements have been collected as evidence and the majority of the victims have now returned to Poland.
The first arrests came when Roma gang-members gathered for a wedding in Poland last week.
On Tuesday, British police also raided flats in London and the central city of Birmingham.
Twenty nine suspects are being held in Poland, and two in England. (nh/pg)