Three modern day slave drivers who made more than £1 million smuggling labourers into Britain and keeping them in filthy doss houses have been jailed.
The brothers, who were members of a Romanian crime gang, were jailed for 28 years after being convicted of a string of trafficking and financial offences.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard during an eight week trial how Valentin, Alexandru and Grigore Lupu worked with the gang to traffick people into Britain from Romania for more than three years from July 2015 until October 2018 to work on building sites.
The victims were deceived into travelling on the promise of being paid £500 every 30 days.
They had their identify cards confiscated and were forced to stay in the brohers’ overcrowded and poorly kept houses in London’s East End.
The gang would exploit them by forging construction qualification documents and putting them to work on building sites across London and the Home Counties.
Police say violence, degrading living conditions and the constant manipulation of the “derisory” cash paid to the victims were “key levers” to ensure they remained subservient.
The brothers generated more than £1.2 million by keeping the victim’s wages for themselves through the exploitation of dozens of victims over 38 months.
In September 2017, a Joint Investigation team involving the Met Police’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit, the CPS, Romanian Police and prosecutors, EuroPol and EuroJust was launched.
Police in London and Romania executed 15 search warrants simultaneously on October 16th last year.
A total of 33 potential victims of human trafficking – 24 men, four women, and five children – were recovered from four London addresses and taken into safety.
The arrest phase marked the latter stages of a three-year international investigation, code-named Operation Cardinas.
All three brothers were living at different address in Ilford, east London, when they were held.
Valentin Lupu, 25, and Grigore Lupu, 39, were each jailed for 10 years after both being convicted of conspiracy to require another to perform forced or compulsory labour, conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Alexandru Lupu, 43, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to require another to perform forced or compulsory labour and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Detective Inspector Rick Sewart, of the Met’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit, said: “Modern slavery is, and will continue to be, a priority for the Met.
“We will continue to do everything within our power to identify and apprehend those intent on trafficking human beings, and exploiting them for their own gain.
“The key partnerships between the Met, the Romanian authorities, Europol, Eurojust and all of our other partners have been crucial to furthering this investigation into organised people trafficking and exploitation.
“We will continue this valuable work with our international and domestic partners to prevent continued exploitation and bring offenders to justice.”
The three brothers were issued with Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs), and will be subject to asset recovery procedures targeting property in Romania as well as vehicles and cash.