North East Trafficking Gang Guilty

10 April 2018, 18:07

jailed

Seven people have today been found guilty of human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Members of the same family, headed up by Roman Rafael, trafficked vulnerable people from Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the UK to work in food packaging factories. The offenders kept all of the victims’ identification and stole all of their wages, so while they were not chained or bound they were effectively held captive, in a country they didn’t know, where they didn’t speak the language, and they had no independence.


The recruitment agencies and factories where the victims worked were also unwitting victims in this case and had no knowledge of the criminality that was being undertaken. They paid the victims correctly and legally 

Roman Rafael and his associates controlled the victims’ lives, and kept them in a state of fear and intimidation.

The two main ringleaders Roman Rafael 33, of Farndale Road, Newcastle, and Marian Rafael, 39 of Brighton Grove, Newcastle, plead guilty in the early stages of the trial after they realised the wealth of evidence against them.

Marian Rafael pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to traffic people, two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.  

Roman Rafael pleaded guilty to all charges against him. Two counts of conspiracy to traffic people, two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour. 

The remaining six defendants received the following convictions.
 
Angelica Chec ,30, of Farndale Road, Newcastle was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to traffic people, two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.  

Juraj Rafael, 38, of Bilbrough Gardens, Newcastle, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to traffic people, one count of conspiracy to launder money and one count of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.   

Ruzena Rafaelova, 37, of Brighton Grove, Newcastle, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to traffic people, two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.  

A 17-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to traffic people, one count of conspiracy to launder money and one count of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.    

Ruzena Rafaelova, 58, of Strathmore Crescent, Newcastle, was found not guilty of two counts of Conspiracy to traffic people into the UK, she was found guilty of all other charges; two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.  

Stefan Rafael, 62 of Strathmore Crescent, Newcastle, was found not guilty of all charges against him. 

Lead investigator in the case, Detective Inspector Sally MacDonald said: “Northumbria Police is committed to safeguarding those in our communities who are vulnerable, and victims of modern day slavery, trafficking and associated offences are among the most vulnerable we find.

“We hope today’s guilty verdicts, along with the earlier guilty pleas from the group’s ringleaders, will send a clear message that we will bring those who prey on the vulnerability of others to justice.

“Those responsible lead a life of luxury, enjoying holidays abroad and parties, financed by the money stolen from their victims.”

“It is thanks to the bravery of the victims and work with partners that we have been able to secure these convictions. Those involved include Newcastle Local Authority, HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Work and Pensions and Immigration, Crown Prosecution Service, NHS, British Red Cross, Hope for Justice and Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority.

“However, this important work does not end with this trial. We continue to proactively target offenders profiting from these sickening crimes, while supporting victims through the activity we do in the name of Sanctuary.

“We all have a responsibility to help tackle modern day slavery, an offence which is often hidden from public view. We therefore rely on the vigilance of people in our local communities to report any suspicious behaviour to us, so we can take action.”

It is often the case with crimes associated with modern day slavery and human trafficking that the victims do not see themselves as victims and think what they are being subjected to is normal behaviour. Anyone who thinks they are a victim or any members of the public who have concerns about human trafficking or modern day slavery happening near them should ring police on 101 or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.