Police in Slovakia and the UK have broken up a criminal network involved in trafficking Slovak victims to Scotland for the purposes of sexual exploitation and sham marriages.
Supported by Europol and Eurojust, law enforcement officers last week arrested five suspects in Glasgow as part of an operation that has identified 16 women as victims of human trafficking. The women were offered support by an NGO that specialises in dealing with cases of trafficking after they were rescued.
Vojtech Gombar, Anil Wagle, Jana Sandorova, Sylvia Racova and Adam Rastislav each made no plea when they on Monday appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court, where a judge remanded them in custody.
They were charged with arranging for people to travel to the UK with the intention of exploiting them and forcing people into prostitution.
Gombar, Sandorova, Rocova and Ratislav were additionally charged with keeping or managing or assisting in the management of a brothel.
Earlier this week, Slovak police arrested four more members of the gang. The men, who were aged between 23 and 40, have appeared at court in Slovakia.
During the operation that led to the men’s arrest, police gathered a considerable amount of evidence, including mobile phones, computers and travel documents.
Europol said the group recruited vulnerable women from poor backgrounds with false offers of well-paid work before forcing their victims into sex work and sham marriages.
In a statement, Europe’s law enforcement agency said: “Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational and analytical support to Slovakia and the United Kingdom throughout the investigation.”
Detective Inspector Stevie McMillan said: Detective inspector Stevie McMillan said: “This forms part of what is still very much a live and ongoing inquiry and we will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and across Europe, to ensure anyone else who has been involved in this crime will be brought to justice.
“This is a significant development to ensure the individuals involved in this crime group cannot inflict the same misery and suffering upon other vulnerable victims.
“Human trafficking cannot be tolerated and it is important that members of the public understand the impact human trafficking has on people, businesses and communities, and to report any evidence of exploitation.
“Victims can be vulnerable from a number of factors such as poverty, war or poor education, and are often targeted and subjected to abuse, and forced into work where they are exploited.”
A similar operation that took place in August last year resulted in Europol and UK police dismantling a Romanian gang that forced women into prostitution in 10 cities across Britain.