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15 February 2018, 18:28
A man's been jailed for five years after five men from Eastern Europe were kept in one room in Handsworth.
Mihai Varga took the men to work 12-hour shifts at a food processing factory in Staffordshire, but pocketed most of their wages and handed over just £20 for a day’s work.
The five Romanian men aged between 26 and 50,who police say have since been safeguarded, were also kept in cramped conditions in a room at his home in Ashwin Road, Handsworth.
Officers executed a warrant and arrested Varga at his address last September as part of a joint investigation between West Midlands Police, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
He initially denied exploiting the Eastern European men but changed his plea during a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Varga, aged 39, was yesterday (Wednesday 14 February) sentenced to five years for human trafficking and fraud offences.
Detective Constable Nick McCullogh, from Force CID, said: "Varga cruelly made money from these victims while forcing them to work long hours and live in squalid conditions; we found they were staying in a small room and often having to share mattresses on the floor to sleep on.
"The victims were receiving around just £2 an hour and unaware they were being paid the minimum wage of £7 an hour.
"We believe Varga had been exploiting workers from Eastern Europe over several years and investigations to identify other victims is on-going.
"This is the 21st century and we are committed to tackling people trafficking and modern slavery. We are continually looking to raise awareness of what is still a hidden crime and need the help of the public if they suspect someone of being an unlicensed gangmaster."
Michael Heyes, GLAA Investigating Officer, added: “Several of our specially-trained officers provided ongoing support before, during and after this large-scale and complex investigation and worked well in partnership with West Midlands Police to ensure justice was done for the victims.
“There are manipulative, devious and cruel men and women in every corner of the country right now exploiting workers for a handsome profit. Many victims aren’t aware that the majority of the wage they’re earning is going to their exploiter, or that they are entitled to holiday pay, sick pay or days off to rest. The basic rights you and I enjoy in our jobs are withheld from hard-working people who deserve better.
“People like Varga exploit those under their control mercilessly - the GLAA will continue to work closely with partners to ensure these people don’t go unpunished and that workers get what they’re entitled to."