Four jailed after inquiry into migrant worker exploitation in Cambridgeshire

Juris Valujevs, Oksana Valujeva, Lauma Vankova and Ivars Mezals Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption (left to right) Juris Valujevs, Oksana Valujeva, Lauma Vankova and Ivars Mezals "ruthlessly took advantage of the victims for their own gain"

Four people have been jailed after a police inquiry into the exploitation of migrant farm workers in Cambridgeshire.

Police were investigating the abuse of workers who came to the Wisbech area from Latvia and Lithuania.

The four were found guilty of conspiracy to acquire criminal property following a 10-week trial at Huntingdon Crown Court.

Three were also jailed for arranging sham marriages which led to charges of assisting in an immigration offence.

Police said three women workers were either offered or forced to take part in sham marriages to help clear debts.

Police and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) investigated allegations that workers had their accommodation and bank accounts controlled by the people who brought them to the UK - which led to the charges of conspiracy to acquire criminal property.

The four who were sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court are:

  • Juris Valujevs, 37, of Turbus Road, King's Lynn, in Norfolk, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years
  • Lauma Vankova, 27, of Creswell Street, King's Lynn, received six years
  • Oksana Valujeva, 35, of Turbus Road, was jailed for six years.
  • Ivars Mezals, 30, of St Bartholomew's Road, Reading, but formerly of Wisbech, was jailed for three years for conspiracy.

Det Insp Jenny Bristow said: "The operation run by the defendants left many people in abject poverty and debt and all four defendants ruthlessly took advantage of the victims for their own gain."

Mezals and Valujevs had previously been jailed in 2014 for acting as illegal gangmasters.

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