The victims of a trafficking and labour racket run by two brothers were forced to carry out their own self-surgery after being denied medical treatment while exploited in a series of menial jobs.
Igor and Marek Marcin promised Slovak and Czech men a better life in Derby but forced them to sleep together on mattresses on the floor in a bug-infested bedroom before putting them to work for minimal wages.
The men were not allowed to see doctors, with one forced to remove his own tooth, and another perforated his eardrum while dealing with ear-ache. Other victims forced to work in a car wash had their feet burned because they were wearing only slippers.
The 12 men were paid as little as £5 a week, but the brothers seized benefits of more than £100,000. The brothers’ wives also stole the victims’ money. While the men lived and worked in squalor, the two brothers drove around in luxury cars, including a top-end Mercedes.
Jailing the Slovakian Marcin brothers yesterday, Judge Jonathan Gosling told them they had cynically targeted the men who led aimless lives with few family members to miss them in their homelands. “In a word, these men were dehumanised,” he said.
The men were fed at set meal times, had no access to the internet and did not mix with anybody else. Their passports were taken away, they were forced to open bank accounts, and they were paid pocket money during three years of exploitation.
“There were four of us in one room,” said one victim, Frantisek Ruzicka, 44, in a video statement released by police. “I would wake up at 3am and you are being eaten alive by these flat beetles. You have got all these spots all over the place. At 6am, you are supposed to be getting up and going to work.
“I was working in a flower factory and you have bites all over the place and you want to scratch yourself but you can’t. The itching was terrible, I really couldn’t cope.”
Marek Marcin, 40, slapped one of the men around the face when he complained about his treatment, Derby Crown Court was told.
He and his brother Igor, 36, – who received the longest jail term of just over four years – both admitted immigration offences at an earlier hearing. Their wives, Gabriela Marcinova, 42, and Dagmar Marcinova, 38, also admitted stealing from the men and were given short jail terms.
The men’s ordeal ended when they went to the Salvation Army for help. Police raided several houses over the city in July last year and found 12 victims of trafficking. All but three of the men have returned to their home countries.
Detective Inspector Emlyn Richards, who led the police investigation, said: “Some of the men had chemical burns where they had been made to work at car washes in just their slippers. The chemicals had seeped through the footwear and burnt their skin.
“One victim told of how he removed his own tooth because he was denied access to a dentist. We were also told of a man who had suffered constant earache but was denied medical treatment. To end the pain he was in, he perforated his own ear drum.
“Another victim told us how over several months he had managed to save about £55, which he intended to use to escape and buy a flight home. He returned from working one day to find his room had been searched and the money had been stolen.”