A creepy photo reveals a house of horrors where a twisted couple imprisoned 10 slaves for years.
Maros Tancos, 45, and Joanna Gomulska, 46, forced their victims to work non-stop for free and locked them in a three-bedroom home.
The couple were imprisoned in Bristol Crown Court on modern-day slavery and human trafficking charges.
The couple recruited victims from sanatoriums and orphanages in Slovakia, promising a stable job and a better life in England.
Upon arrival, however, the men were forced to work at Tancos’ car wash in Southmead, Bristol, and long hours of other manual labor.
Victims were often verbally and physically abused while all possessions were taken away.
They had to work regularly, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, locked up in a three-bedroom home, shared one bathroom and slept on a dirty mattress.
One victim described the house in which they were confined as “the gates of hell.”
“I went there because I wanted to support my family and give more to them than in Slovakia, but the life I spent at Maros’s house changed my life completely,” he said.
“I couldn’t leave the house and the only thing I knew was work. I always thought I was a slave there. I thought there was no way back.”
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Another man, who was detained for eight years, said the couple “destroyed half of my life.”
“The way I was humiliated, beaten and punished for every little thing. I will never forget it,” he said.
“If I wasn’t there, no one could understand what I experienced.”
Their income was supported by the Tancos and Gomulska, who provided basic food for their victims and maintained poor living conditions.
The two made a lot of money from their tragic victims and locked more victims in gambling houses and flying airplanes.
They also forced their victims to open bank accounts and applied for loans or credit cards in their names.
Between 2010 and 2017, the couple poured £300,000 from bank accounts opened in the victims’ names.
The couple only came to the attention of the National Crime Agency (NCA) when a victim who had managed to return to Slovakia filed a complaint with the authorities there.
Following the surveillance operation, the NCA raided an address in Brentri, north of Bristol, and found five Slovak men living in cramped rooms with dirty bedding and cardboard-lined mattresses.
The couple had a photo library with bank cards, pin numbers, identification documents of the victims, and details of the flight they had booked to bring them to England.
The NCA worked with Slovak authorities to track down 42 potential victims, 29 of whom were ready to present evidence.
Tancos and Gomulska were charged with crimes against 15 men.
In March, both men were convicted of nine counts of crimes involving human trafficking and forced labor and one count of conspiracy to acquire criminal property.
The NCA believes the actual number of victims could be quite high, as there were a lot of people they couldn’t track.
Tancos was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Gomulska was sentenced to 9 years for her role.
Judge Martin Picton said the two should serve two-thirds of their sentences before being released, rather than the usual half.
At a sentencing hearing at the Crown Court in Bristol on Wednesday, Judge Picton said that he had “identified potential victims based on circumstances, financial and social vulnerability” by imprisoning Tankos and Gomulska.
“The victims have a cash value to you the same way cows do to farmers,” he added.
He told Gomulska:
“You made a choice and you made the wrong choice.”
NCA Branch Commander Colin Williams said: “Tancos and Gomulska treated their victims as property and, using their hopes for a better life for themselves and their families, plunged them into an endless cycle of abuse.
“They were prisoners. Their experiences in court show how traumatized the couple was.
“These people came to England optimistically from a poor background, but instead took advantage of their vulnerabilities.
“While they suffered, Tancos and Gomulska spent their victims’ salaries on gambling and cars.
“Our investigation has put these two brutal abusers in prison for a long time.
“The vulnerable victims of Tancos and Gomulska were treated with utter contempt, being held captive, despite their promise to have a better life in England.
“The victim’s testimony showed the psychological and physical wounds that the couple still bears from their treatment.
“Eradication of human trafficking and modern-day slavery is a top priority for the NCA, and we hope that this outcome will give some relief to the victims.”
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