gang
Image caption Vojtech Gombar, Anil Wagle, Jana Sandorova, and Ratislav Adam were convicted

Four people who trafficked women from Slovakia to Glasgow and forced their victims into prostitution and sham marriages have been jailed.

The women were transported to flats in the Govanhill area between 2011 and 2017, then exploited by the gang.

Vojtech Gombar, 61, Ratislav Adam, 31, Jana Sandorova, 28, and Anil Wagle, 37, denied the charges but were convicted at Glasgow’s High Court in October.

One victim was sold for £10,000 outside a shop in the city’s Argyle Street.

Most of the buyers were men from Pakistan who wanted to marry the women to gain EU citizenship so they could live and work in Europe.

At a sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh, Gombar was jailed for 12 years, Wagle for eight years and six months, Sandorova for seven years, and Adam for nine years.

The BBC understands a number of men were arrested by police but there was not enough evidence to charge them.

It is believed at least one man has since been deported from the UK.

Police, who cracked the trafficking ring in a five-year operation dubbed Operation Synapsis, described the crimes as “despicable”.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Vojtech Gombar was described as the gang’s ringleader

Officers first became aware of the trafficking and exploitation in 2014 but it took a three-year operation before about 70 officers raided four flats in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, leading to the arrest of Gombar, Wagle, Sandorova and Adam.

Gombar, who was described as the ringleader, had family ties with fellow Slovakians Adam and Sandorova.

They are ethnic Romani and came from the town of Trebisov in the east of Slovakia, near its border with Ukraine, from where most of the women were trafficked.

Wagle, from Nepal, initially became involved because he wanted to buy a bride.

Over the course of the investigation, police had helped more than a dozen suspected victims, aged between 18 and 25, to safety.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption Women were trafficked from Trebisov in the east of Slovakia

The women were trafficked to the UK, usually by bus and car, having been promised a better life and work.

But when they arrived they were sold for between between £3,000 and £10,000 as part of a sham marriage scheme with men who wanted to gain EU citizenship.

Some of the victims were used as prostitutes while others were abused by the men who bought them.

Police found that the women were held in “safe houses” in places including Manchester and Yorkshire before being taken to Govanhill.

During the court case, a 28-year-old woman from Slovakia said she had thought that she and her sister were leaving for jobs in London but she ended up in a flat in Govanhill with no job and no money.

She said she was forced to marry the son of a Pakistani man who had chosen her.

Another woman told the court she was brought over from her home town of Trebisov, when she was four or five months pregnant, “for a better life”.

She was handed over to a Nepalese man outside Primark in Argyle Street in 2014 for £10,000.

The woman also claimed that prior to being sold, she was made to sleep with Pakistani men for money and said this was described as “hitchhiking”.

Police became aware of the trafficking after one woman managed to escape and ran to a nearby shop where she raised the alarm.

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