Five members of an organised crime family have been found guilty of luring victims to the UK for construction work before trapping them in modern slavery.
The family made false promises to victims of £50 a day to work plus free food and accommodation.
But instead 16 victims from Romania had their identification documents taken away to exert further control over them and were forced to live in cramped accommodation in east London with up to 26 in a single terraced house. The victims were also presented with false debts and provided with spurious reasons for withholding wages.
Vasile Dragoi Snr, 61, and others were found guilty of human trafficking offences at Southwark Crown Court after a 16-week trial.
Vasile Snr and other members of the Dragoi family made the travel arrangements for the victims to come to the UK. To hide the number of people living in properties in which the victims were placed, bunk beds were hidden in lofts during local council inspections.
Described as “the big boss”, Vasile Dragoi Snr controlled the family. He recruited the workers and arranged their transport to the UK, while his sons were the controlling forces in the houses and found employment and enforced the invented debts.
When they were challenged, they responded by menacing and threatening the disgruntled workers.
Paul Goddard, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “These individuals used their position to prey on and exploit many economically vulnerable workers who could not stand up to them.
“They benefited from their victims’ hard work in the construction industry promising good rates of pay to entice them to the UK before reneging on those promises and keeping most of the wages for themselves.
“The modern slavery exploitation of adults is abhorrent and the CPS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.”
All five defendants were convicted of (1) conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation between 1 January 2017 and 20 October 2017; and (2) conspiracy to convert criminal property between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017
Vasile Dragoi Snr, 61, is from Derbyshire. His children, Marian Podianu (43), Florinel Bobi Dragoi (33), and Ion Bogdan Dragoi (25) are all from East Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Ion’s wife Alexandra Ciocodan (27) is also from East Ham.