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Gangmasters ordered to pay back gains

TWO brothers convicted of gangmaster offences in the Wisbech area have been ordered to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds of ill-gotten gains.

Modern Day Slavery

Andrius Dambrauskas, 35, of Awdry Drive, Wisbech, and Stanislovas Dambrauskas, 39, of Ellerby Drive, Wisbech, admitted acting as unlicensed gangmasters and were sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, in September last year.

Last Friday (22 September) at Peterborough Crown Court, confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) were obtained against both men totalling £374,586.51.

They will now be given two months to pay off sums of more than £6,000 each or face imprisonment. The remaining amounts owed will remain indefinitely until paid.

Stanislovas is also due to be deported to Lithuania.

At their sentencing last year, Cambridge Crown Court heard the brothers were unlicensed gangmasters for a number of people who had come to Wisbech from Lithuanian between 2012 and 2014, supplying them for work with companies in the regulated sector or via licensed gangmasters.

Police carried out raids at Andrius' and Stanisolvas' home, then in St Marks Road, Wisbech, on 1 May, 2014, and both were arrested.

Four victims were traced by officers who had been provided with housing as part of the conditions of their work.

On at least one occasion, a victim said they wanted to leave but was told they could not.

Another victim said they had found alternative employment but the defendants failed to assist with transport and continued to make deductions of wages. 

All the houses the victims had lived in appeared to be controlled by the defendants, who decided who lived there and for how long. 

The victims were all tenants of a number of properties and paid rent but only one of them appeared on a rental agreement for a house.

The victims had come from Vilnius, Lithuania, where they paid money for transport to England and what they thought would be a good house and a good, well-paid job. They did not get what they had paid for.

In addition to the suspended sentence, both men were given 275 hours of unpaid work.

DC Vanessa Dodds said: "This POCA hearing demonstrates that crime doesn't pay.

"The brothers were brought before the courts last year thanks to a large-scale investigation which spanned two years. 

"We remain committed to tackling unlicensed gangmasters and protecting vulnerable people."

Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council's Cabinet member for private sector housing, said: "The convictions of these men were as a result of Operation Endeavour, part of the multi-agency task force Operation Pheasant, and are just an example of the ongoing work we are doing with Cambridgeshire police and fire services, the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority and HM Revenues and Customs to tackle migrant exploitation and illegal gangmasters in Fenland.

"It demonstrates our collective determination and commitment to addressing this complex social issue, and work will continue to ensure we disrupt those who persist in gaining from others' suffering."

Article added: October 5, 2017