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Gangmaster jailed for five years over modern slavery offences

By David Cosgrove | Birmingham | Crime | Published:

A gangmaster who brought Eastern European workers to the UK – paying them less than two pounds an hour – has been jailed for five years for modern slavery offences.

Mihai Varga

Mihai Varga transported 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 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 and Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority.

He initially denied exploiting the Eastern European men but changed his plea during a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Varga, 39, has now been (weds) sentenced to five years for human trafficking and fraud offences.

Det Con 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.

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"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."

David Cosgrove

By David Cosgrove
Chief Reporter - @davidcosgrove_

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