Birmingham & Black Country

Slavery gang fugitive Ignacy Brzezinski captured in Poland

Ignacy Brzezinski Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Ignacy Brzezinski described as a 'prominent' gang member was traced to a flat in Poland

A man who helped run the UK's biggest modern-day slavery network has been captured after fleeing the country during his trial.

Ignacy Brzezinski drove a Bentley while his victims - vulnerable people from Poland - lived in squalor and had most of their wages taken off them.

The 52-year-old from the West Midlands fled wearing an electronic tag but was traced to a flat in Poland.

He was among eight to be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 5 July.

West Midlands Police said he is now in custody awaiting extradition to the UK.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMiroslaw Lehmann, 38, was tricked into coming to the UK from Poland with the promise of a job

He was convicted of trafficking charges, conspiracy to require and control another person to perform forced labour, and conspiracy to acquire, use and possess criminal property, and jailed in his absence for 11 years.

Police believe more than 400 victims - who ranged in age from 17 to a man in his 60s - were put to work in the West Midlands by the organised crime gang.

They tricked ex-prisoners, alcoholics and the homeless in Poland with the promise of work and a better life.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Top L-R: Ignacy Brzezinski, Jan Sadowski, Julianna Chodakowicz, Justyna Parczewska. Bottom L-R: Marek Brzezinski, Natalia Zmuda, Wojciech Nowakowski, Marek Chowaniec

They were transported to the UK by bus, but when they arrived they were housed in squalid homes around West Bromwich, Smethwick and Walsall, forced to sleep up to four in a room on filthy mattresses and had their wages "farmed" from bank accounts on payday.

The gang was only arrested when two men managed to escape in 2015 and contacted a slavery charity.

During their trial the judge described the gang's trafficking conspiracy as the "most ambitious, extensive and prolific" modern-day slavery network ever exposed in the UK.

Brzezinski, who was in charge of the bank accounts and wages, absconded during the trial wearing the tagging device.

He was apprehended at a flat in the city of Włocławek on 24 July after police received intelligence about his whereabouts.

Det Ch Insp Nick Dale, who ran the investigation, said he "surrendered quietly" and "seemed rather surprised he'd been traced to a flat that didn't belong to him".

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites