Romanian traffickers who forced 27 slaves to work for a pittance in Corby are being prosecuted in courts in their home country, police have confirmed.
A cross-country Corby / Romanian gang was smashed apart by Europol and Eurojust, as well as police forces in both countries, at the end of April.
Now, three weeks on, new details have emerged of the investigation.
Northants Police provided an update to this newspaper on their side of the probe, saying that their work in Corby is ongoing.
The criminal network was dismantled after police officers uncovered evidence of human trafficking, labour exploitation and money laundering.
In a statement, Europol have confirmed that on April 27, they conducted 25 house searches (13 in Romania and 12 in Corby), made five arrests and seized two high-end cars, weapons and the equivalent of £200,00 in several different currencies.
Victims had been forced to work in Corby factories and car washes for little or no payment
Active since early 2018, the criminal network lured vulnerable people in unstable financial situations by offering them jobs in the UK. The suspects recruited victims directly from the Romanian county of Iasi, but also through intermediaries.
So far the investigators have identified 27 victims, both male and female, of Romanian origin. The criminal network transported the victims to the UK where they took their ID documents and phones and forced them to work for little or no wages at all. The victims were forced to work 16 hours a day and seven days a week. The suspects established a wide network for the recruitment, transportation, accommodation and exploitation of victims.
In collaboration with managers from a number of companies in the UK, the members of the criminal gang supplied businesses, such as factories and car wash companies, with low-wage workers.
As the suspects were in possession of the victims’ ID documents, they could take out different loans using the victims’ names. The criminal networks also controlled the bank-cards of the victims, withdrawing all salary payments made to them by their employers.
The gang threatened the victims and their families back home with physical violence. With no means of communication and under strict control by the criminal gang, the victims worked without receiving any payment, and without sufficient food supplies or basic health care. The suspects laundered the criminal proceeds through investments in real estate in Romania and through the purchase of luxury goods.
A Northants Police spokeswoman said: “This is a joint investigation between ourselves and our colleagues in Romania, however the main prosecution is being led by the Romanian team.
“There is no update regarding the three suspects arrested by Northamptonshire Police, however the main offenders who were arrested in Romania are now being prosecuted for human trafficking type offences and will have their cases heard in the Romanian courts.
“This investigation is ongoing and we will continue to provide evidence to support the Romanian prosecution as well as investigate wider criminality identified as a result of our local enforcement.”