Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

  • Laszlo Egeresi and Gabor Olah constantly threatened kitchen staff with violence
  • Criminals brought workers to the UK after using deception to recruit migrants
  • Excessive costs then trapped them in cycle of debt they had no hope of clearing

Two slave-drivers who trafficked people to work in kitchens have been jailed for a total of 13 and a half years.

Laszlo Egeresi, 37, and Gabor Olah, 25, from Hersham in Surrey constantly threatened the EU nationals with assault or being thrown out on the streets if they stepped out of line.

An organised crime unit deceived the victims in order to recruit them from Hungary and bring them to the UK.

Egeresi, left, and Olah, right, threatened the Hungarian workers with violence and being kicked out onto the street as they exploited them to work in kitchens

They were then charged excessive accommodation, transport and administration costs that trapped them in a debt build-up they had no hope of paying off.

A jury at Kingston Crown Court found both guilty of two counts of human trafficking for the purposes of exploitation in a unanimous verdict.

The pair represent the county's first conviction for modern slavery, with Egeresi also found guilty of a third count.

Today he was jailed for seven and a half years as Olah was sentenced to six years and a seven-year human trafficking order was imposed on both.

Officers arrested them after executing warrants at three addresses in Walton-on-Thames in June last year as they acted on information that migrants were being exploited to work illegally.

They suspected the kitchen staff were being exploited through slavery, poor living conditions or low if not non-existent wages.

National Crime Agency staff as well as Salvation Army, Red Cross and Department of Work and Pensions officers joined police investigating if the workers were being financially exploited for the benefit of others or for excessive transport accommodation and administrative costs.

Detective Constable Alex Protts - who will received a judge's commendation - said one of the migrants had to go through the ordeal of returning to the UK from their native Hungary to offer evidence.

'We are delighted with this result after months of hard work,' she said. 'This operation was not only about tackling those that exploit vulnerable people through human trafficking and modern day slavery but also to hold out a lifeline to help those that are victims of these crimes.

'This case was particularly challenging as we had to persuade one of the victims to come back from Hungary to give evidence.

'All evidence was given in Hungarian and translated during the trial. Their evidence was extremely powerful and highlighted how the constant threats of being physically assaulted or thrown out on the streets forced them to comply.'

Detective Superintendent Karen Mizzi warned communities to be vigilant to slave-drivers operating in their area.

'I am extremely pleased with the outcome of this case after all the hard work that has been undertaken over the past couple of months.

'Modern slavery is a crime that exploits the most vulnerable people in our society, often in the form of labour exploitation.

'People think of it as something that happened years ago certainly not today and certainly not within the leafy streets of Surrey.

'However, signs of slavery are often hidden making it difficult to spot victims but it is closer than you think. Victims caught up in modern slavery are extremely vulnerable and, as we did in this case, we will do everything we can to protect them.'

Steve Wilday, head of the National Crime Agency's Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit, called for people to speak out if they suspect trafficking.

'Modern Slavery is a high priority for law enforcement and by working with partners like Surrey Police we are determined to pursue the criminals involved in this vile trade,' he said.

'It is a crime that affects all types of communities across every part of the UK, but we know it is difficult to spot because often vulnerable victims don't even know they are being exploited.

'There will be people living and working where victims come into contact with everyone else's so-called normal lives, and we need those people to speak to us.'

Anne Read, director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, said the charity will offer help to workers who are being exploited if they come forward.

'Following the police operation that took place in Surrey the victims were safely delivered into protective care and offered specialist support through a Government contract operated by The Salvation Army,' she said.

'This provides vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation which gives them the very best chance to try and recover through comprehensive specialised services, which can range from intensive 24/7 support in the first stages of recovery or for people with high-level needs to counselling and help with accommodation, repatriation, finances and finding employment.

'For England and Wales please call The Salvation Army’s 24-hour confidential referral helpline on 0300 303 8151 to refer someone or seek advice if you consider yourself to be a potential victim of modern slavery or suspect someone you have come into contact with may be a victim of modern slavery.'

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