The gang trafficked up to 400 people and forced them to work and live in deplorable conditions.
The West Midlands Police (WMP) reported Friday that five men and three women from the Brzezinski family, a modern slavery network that operated in the United Kingdom, were sentenced to up to 11 years in prison due to the trafficking of more than 400 people.
This Polish gang tricked vulnerable people, whom they captured in Poland, to come to the U.K. with the promise of a job and better living conditions.
"I did not have any money as I had just left prison and they said they would pay for my ticket and then I would have to pay back the money," Miroslaw Lehmann, a 38-year victim.
The Polish "really needed the job because they were in a position in life that they needed to get out of," the WMP Chief Inspector Nick Dale explained and added that "in some cases, they were desperate for money to pay their relatives' urgent medical care."
Once in the U.K., the Brzezinski gang forced its victims to live crowded in rat-infested housing and controlled their salaries and movements.
Happy Fourth of July from everyone at Hope for Justice! We hope your day is full of both fun and celebration.— Hope for Justice US (@HFJ_US) July 4, 2019
Unfortunately, there are thousands of US citizens today trapped in human trafficking, who will not get to experience Independence Day like you. pic.twitter.com/KJXpHga43V
The eight traffickers were convicted on charges of slavery, human trafficking and money laundering. Five of them have already been imprisoned and the other three are still waiting for their sentence.
The slavery network, which earned about US$2.5 million during their illegal operations, collapsed when two victims managed to flee in 2015 and reported their experiences to 'Hope For Justice', a global non-profit organization which aims to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The Brzezinski gang captured homeless people, former inmates or alcoholics, whom they moved out from Poland on buses. Once in the U.K., they were distributed in unhealthy dwellings where they had to sleep on mattresses sharing a room with three other people.
"Homeless people in the U.K. live better than I lived," Lehmann said. "There was no heating, no secure windows, cold water, sleeping on the floor on some mattresses, covering yourself with your own clothing."
These modern slaves were forced to work 13 hours of hard labor at places such as garbage recycling centers, turkey farms and meat processing factories. Formally speaking they were paid USD25 per week; however, their salaries were withheld by their captors.