Man charged after Cambridgeshire and Norfolk migrant worker raids

Ivars Mezals
Image caption Ivars Mezals is accused of acting as an unlicensed gangmaster

A man has been charged in connection with the alleged exploitation of migrant workers following police raids in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Ivars Mezals, 27, of Conference Way, Wisbech, is accused of acting as an unlicensed gangmaster, blackmail and fraud by false representation.

He appeared before magistrates and was remanded in custody to appear at Cambridge Crown Court on 25 October.

Eight other people arrested during Tuesday's raids have been bailed.

Five of them, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, were given conditional bail on Wednesday.

Operation Endeavour

They were two 44-year-old men from March; two men aged 26, both from Wisbech, and a 36-year-old woman, also from Wisbech.

A 22-year-old woman from Wisbech, arrested on suspicion of possessing a pepper spray, was bailed on Wednesday until 9 December.

A 44-year-old man from March and a 27-year-old woman from Wisbech have been bailed until 7 November.

The multi-agency operation was led by police and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and also involved the National Crime Agency (NCA); Fenland District Council; the Home Office and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa).

The police and GLA also attended the premises of March-based recruitment agencies Roberto Mac and Slender Contracting, whose licences were suspended.

The raids were part of Operation Endeavour which is looking into the working and living conditions of migrant agricultural workers, mainly from Lithuania and Latvia, in the Wisbech area of Cambridgeshire.

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