A couple has been jailed for forcing vulnerable people into modern slavery and spending their earnings.
Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska are found to have trafficked at least 29 people to the UK from Slovakia or Hungary on the promise of a better life.
Bristol Crown Court ordered Tancos to undergo imprisonment for 16 years and handed down a nine-year jail term to Gomulska.
When their victims arrived in the UK, the couple took control of them and took away their identity documents. The foreign nationals were also subjected to violence.
The victims were forced to work at Tancos’ car wash for free and do other manual jobs with little or no break. One of them was made to go about working even after suffering an injury.
Their earnings were taken by Tancos and Gomulska, who gave the victims only basic rations of food and kept them in poor living conditions.
The court heard that the couple spent the money on online gambling and to entrap more victims.
Senior specialist prosecutor Ruona Iguyovwe 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,” Iguyovwe said.
“Tancos and Gomulska took everything they could from the victims, depriving them of the most basic human needs and acting for their own gain.”
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers arrested the pair in 2017 after getting information from Slovakia that one of its nationals had fled a Bristol address. The investigators found incriminating data on the mobile phones of the offenders.
Mark Morrison, a senior investigating officer at NCA said the victims were made to live in awful conditions and subjected to beatings.
“There are multiple accounts of violence against them with beatings. The mental anguish that these men and women have gone through is absolutely abhorrent,” Morrison told Sky News.