This the largest modern slavery and human trafficking case the force has ever investigated.
The gang involved trafficked vulnerable people from Latvia to Derby and forced them to work to fund their own lavish lifestyles. The group, many of whom are related to each other, recruited their victims on the promise of well-paid work and a better life in the UK. But when those victims arrived in Derby, they were put in poor accommodation, slept on mattresses infested with bed bugs, and were made to work long hours for little or no pay. Nine members of the gang admitted offences linked to human trafficking and exploitation, and were sentenced for their crimes at Nottingham Crown Court in November 2018.
They were jailed for a total of 33 years, with the ringleaders receiving sentences as high as six years. A slavery and trafficking prevention order was imposed upon all nine, preventing them from committing similar crimes in future. The case saw Derbyshire officers working closely with the State Police of Latvia, the Latvian Ministry of Justice, the National Crime Agency, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The investigation started with a single phone call - a taxi firm in the city called police to report that a man had assaulted a woman in their offices. When police arrived, the man had gone but the woman gave officers her home address in Derby. When our officers visited the house, we found a group of vulnerable Latvian men living inside. The pieces started to fall into place. We were clearly looking at a case of modern slavery.
After months of investigating, detectives were in a position to execute six warrants at houses in Derby. They arrested six gang members that day and found ten victims. The team then worked with Europol, Eurojust and the State Police of Latvia to identify and arrest those gang members in Riga, who were responsible for recruiting the victims in the first place.
Thanks to that joint effort, 28 victims of the gang were identified, with 15 travelling to the UK to tell of their ordeals in court.
The force has produced a documentary series about the case to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking and to highlight the partnership working that brought this gang to justice.