A PROLIFIC human trafficking gang jailed for keeping vulnerable workers in captivity have been ordered to pay £80,000 to their victims.

Last year, members of the Rafael family were jailed for running one of the largest modern day slavery operations the region has ever seen, forcing victims to live in a state of fear and intimidation. 

The notorious gang brought vulnerable people from Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the UK to work in food packaging factories but confiscated their identification and stole their wages and forced them to live in captivity. 

Last week, an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act was heard at Teesside Crown Court following a financial investigation by Northumbria Police.

A judge ruled that ringleaders Roman and Marian Rafael must pay £20,000 each to their victims within three months. The investigation also found the pair’s criminal activities had made them more than £450,000.

Detective Inspector Sally Macdonald, who led the investigation, said: “These offenders have carried out sickening crimes at the expense of a group of vulnerable individuals so it is only right they spend many years behind bars.

“However, punishment comes in many forms and for most criminals money is a significant motivating factor. This is why the Proceeds of Crime Act is so important as it helps us strip away the assets which were gained though illicit activities and prove crime does not pay.

“A financial investigation can be regularly revisited if we think an offender has come into money again and not paid off the total amount of their benefit order, which in this case, stands at £457,651. As a result, we will continue to assess this case and take further action if more assets become available.”

Associates Ruzena Rafaelova (Junior) and Ruzena Rafaelova (Senior) both have two months to each pay £20,000 to their victims and were each given benefit orders of £196,772.

An investigation is still ongoing into the finances of Angelika Chec and her case has been adjourned.

Det. Insp Macdonald added: “I would like to take this opportunity to once again praise the bravery of the victims who played a huge role in securing convictions by coming forward and telling their stories.

“We continue to proactively target offenders profiting from these horrific crimes, while supporting vulnerable victims. Often people don’t realise they are victims of slavery and so it is important that the police and people in the community are vigilant so together we can tackle this crime.”

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.