Three members of a trafficking gang have been sentenced for their role in trafficking women from Eastern Europe to Swindon. Their victims were exploited into sex work across Swindon and the South West of England.
The hearing followed an investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU), supported by Police Units in Gloustershire and Wiltshire.
The court heard how the group's ringleader, Maciej Kozlowsk (52) went by multiple aliases whilst running the trafficking operation, with Piotr Lebek (57) as his second in command.
Lebek would collect victims from airports, move them between brothels and pick up cash they had been paid – reporting back to Kozlowski on their takings. In one text to Kozlowski, Lebek said he was “off to the whore place”.
Agata Jankowska, 37, of Gloucester, booked victims’ flights into the UK and controlled some of the phones used to book their appointments. A second woman, Lidia Grzybowska, 45, of East Lothian, pleaded guilty to controlling other phones used to make bookings and will be sentenced at a later date.
The group pleaded guilty to trafficking at least 20 women over two years, mainly from Poland, to work in brothels at flats in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon, Bridgwater, Kettering, Coventry, Nottingham, Worcester and Wales. One woman’s profile had been active in as many as seven different towns.
The group’s ringleader, Maciej Kozlowski, was also convicted of raping a woman who the group later exploited at their network of brothels.
Following joint work with SWROCU, prosecutors built a compelling case using complex strands of evidence to help secure these convictions.
This included records of the group’s movements between airports and brothels; thousands of messages arranging appointments; photos taken for online adverts; messages reporting cash collected from victims; and even evidence of shopping trips for bedding, wet wipes, condoms and mobile phone top-ups.
Andrew Pritchard, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS South West’s Complex Case Unit, said: “Kozlowski, Lebek and Jankowska were members of a well organised and motivated group who chose to make money off women made vulnerable by their work in the sex trade.
“Victims were treated like a commodity to be exploited and moved around the country to different brothels simply to maximise their profitability.
“At trial, it was proved that Kozlowski, the leader of the group, was prepared to rape one of the victims he had targeted. The seriousness of these defendants’ criminal actions is reflected in the sentences passed by the court today.”
Det Supt Charlotte Tucker, who led the SWROCU investigation, said: “This group was making huge amounts of money by trafficking women into and around the country to exploit like commodities, profiting from the risks these vulnerable victims took and the ‘work’ they endured.
“They showed total contempt for the women they exploited, with Kozlowski even raping one victim in a bid to recruit her to work for his group. She, and other victims, have described the long-term harm they have suffered.
“I hope the sentences handed down bring her and the other women some closure, give other victims confidence that we will do all we can to investigate and bring such offenders to justice, and show the public that we all must do more to give such victims a voice. These women were being put to work in flats and houses in our communities – please learn to spot the signs and report any suspicions.”