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Police crack Britain’s largest ‘modern slavery ring’

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Details about what prosecutors have called one of Britain’s largest-ever modern day slavery rings have emerged with the conviction of eight people originally from Poland.

Prosecutors say more than 400 victims were forced to work for minuscule wages while their masters earned some 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) and lived a luxurious lifestyle. Reporting restrictions were lifted Friday, allowing details to be published.

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The group preyed on the homeless, former convicts and alcoholics in Poland and lured them to Britain with false promises of well-paid work. Some ended up being paid less than $1 for a day’s work and were held in squalid conditions.

Five men and three women originally from Poland have been convicted of modern day slavery offenses and money laundering.

Jurors in two separate trials at Birmingham Crown Court heard testimony from more than 90 victims, with indications that at least another 350 had been trafficked by the criminal gang.

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Victims reported being forced to wash in a canal because they had no access to fresh water, having to plug leaky toilets with their blankets and sheets, and getting food from soup kitchens and food banks because their wages were not sufficient.

The group targeted vulnerable people in Poland for recruitment, including newly released convicts, and placed them in England in cramped, rat-infested lodgings. They were put to work on farms, rubbish recycling centers and poultry factories.

The victims ranged from teenagers to people over 60.

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Judge Mary Stacey said at the end of the first trial that the traffickers’ “degradation” of fellow human beings had been “totally unacceptable.” She imposed prison sentences of up to 11 years.

She said the belief that slavery had been ended in Britain was not true: “The hard truth is that the practice continues, here in the U.K., often hiding in plain sight.”

The police investigation and research by the charity Hope For Justice turned up numerous cases of abuse.

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In one instance, a man who complained about poor pay and living conditions had his arm broken, was given no medical care, then ejected from the lodgings.

Another was forced to remove his clothes and threatened with the removal of his kidneys if he did not keep quiet about the situation.

In the second trial, which ended in June, 52-year-old Ignacy Brzezinski and Wojciech Nowakowski, 41, were convicted. A third, Jan Sadowski, 26, pleaded guilty.

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Convicted at the earlier trial, which ended in February, were chief conspirator Marek Chowanic, Marek Brzezinski, Julianna Chodakiewicz, Natalia Zmuda and Justyna Parczewska.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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GOP facing nightmare scenario as rural America gets hit with a depopulation crisis

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The Republican Party is entrenched in rural America with the overwhelming majority of small towns being represented by the GOP. But the population in these areas are under a huge decline.

That's a nightmare scenario for Republicans in Congress, whose districts are determined by population. The Republican Party has worked diligently to ensure gerrymandering can protect their rural members as the population shifts toward the suburbs.

One key component of the Affordable Care Act went to subsidizing rural hospitals to prevent them from closing. Most of that has been defunded by Republicans if the states were even willing to allow Medicare/Medicaid expansion in the state, to begin with. A Navigant report out earlier this year showed that more than one in five rural hospitals have closed so far.

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Saudi doctor yanked from flight after woman freaks out over his ‘see you on the other side’ remark

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A Muslim doctor was removed from an American Airlines flight out of Florida after a woman misunderstood a remark he made to his wife in a phone call.

Abdulaziz Al Mana, a medical resident at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, was flying in June to Washington, D.C., to visit his wife when he noticed the woman seated next to him acting nervously as the plane taxied onto the runway, reported the Miami New Times.

The woman slipped a note to a flight attendant, and the captain then announced the plane would be turned around for a passenger emergency.

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‘Pro-life’ Christians reveal they really don’t care about fetuses — they just want to control women’s bodies: survey

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According to a new poll, anti-abortion advocates also tend to hold views that are hostile to gender equality. The Guardian’s Jill Filipovic says the results show that the anti-abortion movement is more concerned with controlling women’s bodies than they are about the “sanctity of life.”

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