Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Crime gang convicted of people smuggling in West Lothian

Arvids Civkors. Aivars Dzagarjan, Maris Kursis and Hardijs Langsteins
Image caption Arvids Civkors. Aivars Dzagarjan, Maris Kursis and Hardijs Langsteins

Four men have been convicted of organised crime in West Lothian, including people smuggling, money laundering, and fraud.

They were accused of bringing Latvian people into the UK between 2012 and 2016.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how victims were housed in crowded conditions, and some were forced to hand over their wages.

The men will be sentenced at a later date.

Hardijs Langsteins, 37, from Salford; Maris Kursis , 30, from Falkirk; Arvids Civkors, 30, from Edinburgh and Aivars Dzagarjans, 38, from Forth, Northumberland had pleaded not guilty to the offences.

The 14 week trial heard how victims believed they would be offered employment, usually within a local warehouse in Bathgate, where Civkors worked.

Some people were forced to surrender their wages to the group. Others were forced under duress to open bank accounts which were then used for money laundering and fraud by the gang.

Det Ch Insp Stephen Healy said: "All four of these men subjected their victims to threats, intimidation and coercion, leaving them in fear for their safety and believing that they were in debt to the group, forcing them to hand over their bank accounts in order to repay them.

"The group then committed fraud and laundered the proceeds of these crimes through the accounts.

"This group actively targeted vulnerable Latvian nationals looking to come to the UK for a better life and placed them in crowded and squalid conditions, exploiting them for profit.

"I would also like to thank all of those individuals who testified against Langsteins, Kursis, Dzagarjan and Civkors as it was their evidence that helped secure their convictions."

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