Poland’s police said Thursday they had arrested a fugitive Polish human trafficker who fled Britain after he was found guilty of running a large modern slavery ring there.
Ignacy Brzezinski led a gang that lured hundreds of Polish homeless people and drug addicts to what British state prosecutors called “the largest modern slavery” operation ever exposed in the U.K.
Officers from Poland’s CBS organized crime police unit detained the 53-year-old in the central city of Wloclawek after Britain issued a European arrest warrant on July 17.
“He was arrested in July, in recent days. He was arrested on the street in front of an apartment block,” CBS spokeswoman Iwona Jurkiewicz told AFP.
“The man fled Britain during his judicial process,” she said, adding that the regional court will decide whether to extradite him to Britain for an 11-year sentence.
A British court convicted Brzezinski and seven other Poles last month of crimes ranging from human trafficking to money laundering and conspiracy to require another person to perform forced labor.
But Brzezinski “skipped court bail on the eve of sentencing and slipped back onto the Continent,” according to a statement issued by British police.
Court testimony and police records showed the victims being paid as little as £10 ($12.50, 11.15 euros) a week for tough, physical work such as sorting parcels or picking onions. The operation was based in the central English city of Birmingham.
The victims were kept in squalid conditions and constantly monitored to make sure none escaped.
The sentencing documents described Brzezinski as a “functioning alcoholic” who “enjoyed the fruits of the conspiracy, riding around in a Bentley and a fleet of high-performance cars.”