Two Derby trafficking couples jailed
Brothers Igor Marcin (36), of Amber Street, and Marek Marcin (40), of Cameron Road, were jailed for 92 months in total after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to trafficking in and within the UK.
Igor was sentenced to 52 months while Marek received 40 months.
The brothers met their victims in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, promising them a better life in Derby. When the men arrived in the city, they were put into squalid rooms of up to four men sharing. They were made to work in car washes and factories and only received a small amount of their real earnings – the rest was taken by the brothers. Igor’s wife Dagmar Marcinova (38), who admitted fraud and theft, was sentenced to ten months. She took money from one of the victim’s bank accounts and stole cash from another.
Marek’s wife Gabriela Marcinova (42) pleaded guilty to theft after stealing money belonging to one of the victims. She was sentenced to eight months.
The two couples were arrested on Monday, July 15 by Derbyshire police officers, the National Crime Agency’s UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), who visited several addresses across Derby.
They found 12 victims of human trafficking at the houses. The men were taken to a special reception centre, set up by Derbyshire County Council, Derby City Council, the Salvation Army and the British Red Cross.
Nine of the victims have returned to their home countries while three remain in the UK, being supported by police and specialist charities.
Following the sentencing, one victim has spoken out about his treatment and how the brothers had taken all his documents and most of his wages, leaving him with no means of escape.
Frantisek Ruzicka (44), was brought to Derby from the Czech Republic and shared a room in a house in Cameron Road with three other men. He has spoken about the conditions he lived in. He said: “It wasn’t full of fleas but there were beetles. There were four of us in one room. I would wake up at 3am and you are being eaten alive by these flat beetles. You have got all these spots all over the place. At 6am, you are supposed to be getting up and going to work. .
“I was working in a flower factory and you have bites all over the place and you want to scratch yourself but you can’t. The itching was terrible, I really couldn’t cope.
“They had all my documents so it was impossible to get work elsewhere. I was thinking of going back to the Czech Republic but I had no money so how could I?”
Mr Ruzicka hopes his experience will encourage other people in the same situation to contact police. He added: “Do not be afraid. Tell the police and police will deal with it. All those people who were in charge were arrested. They wanted a lot and now they have ended up with nothing.”
The investigation began after one of the victims went to the Salvation Army last April and told them his story.
Detective Inspector Emlyn Richards, who led the police investigation, said: “While we are obviously pleased that the Marcin brothers and their wives have been sentenced, the real success of this operation is that these victims are no longer being exploited. “When they arrived at the reception centre and started to tell us what had happened to them, we were shocked by what we were hearing.
“They lived in cramped conditions, with just a matress on the floor to sleep on, and were only receiving a fraction of what they were actually earning – around £15 to £25 for a full working week. Meanwhile, the Marcin family were driving around in high-value cars. The traffickers kept the men’s documents so they had no way of leaving.
One of the high-value cars the family drove around in.
“Some of the men had chemical burns where they had been made to work at car washes in just their slippers. The chemicals had seeped through the footwear and burnt their skin. One victim told of how he removed his own tooth because he was denied access to a dentist. We were also told of a man who had suffered constant earache but was denied medical treatment. To end the pain he was in, he perforated his own ear drum.
“Another victim told us how over several months and had managed to save about £55, which he intended to use to escape and buy a flight home. He returned from working one day to find his room had been searched and the money had been stolen.”
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent added: “This was a shocking example of people driven by nothing but greed lining their pockets at the expense of the health, welfare and safety of men who were forced to work for them.
“It may shock the people of Derby to learn that the horrific practice of human trafficking is happening in their city. Regrettably, it comes as no surprise to the GLA because we know this can and does happen everywhere.
“The kind of organised criminal scam being operated by these two couples is typical of cases we are uncovering on a regular basis across the country.
“We will continue to work in partnership with the police, the NCA and all other relevant organisations to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people and make sure offenders are convicted just like they were in this case.”
Liam Vernon, Head of the NCA's UK Human Trafficking Centre, said: "This is not an isolated case, throughout the UK there are similar cases of people being deceived as to the work, conditions and pay they'll receive. They find themselves trapped and exploited for their labour while making the crime groups huge amounts of money.
"Last year, 634 people were reported to the National Referral Mechanism, the route by which trafficked victims can access support services. They were exploited in factories and fields, the food processing and fishing industries, and private enterprises like car washes.
"The NCA will continue to work with partners to relentlessly pursue the organised crime groups involved in this form of slavery. We need the support of the public though. The victims in this case had the courage to report the crimes against them, I encourage anyone who may be a victim or has information to contact the police."
Barbara-Anne Walker, British Red Cross operations director for Derbyshire, said: “Our priority is to support people in crisis and we have a team of dedicated local volunteers who are trained to give vital emotional and practical support in situations like these. In this case, we worked closely with Derbyshire police, Derbyshire County Council and the Salvation Army to support the individuals’ welfare needs at the rest centre. We gave practical support, such as clothing and hygiene items and as well as providing much- needed emotional support.”