Three Slovaks facing jail for trafficking women into Scotland have lengthy criminal records for fraud and violence in their homeland, we can reveal.
Vojtech Gombar, Jana Sandorova and Ratislav Adam will be sentenced on Friday after being convicted last month.
A five-year inquiry, codenamed Operation Synapses, nailed Gombar and his gang, including Anil Raj Wagle, 37, who is originally from Nepal, after they transported women from poverty-stricken communities in eastern Slovakia into the UK.
We revealed how their victims were tricked into travelling to Glasgow with bogus job offers before being sexually exploited or sold into sham marriages.
A source in Slovakia with knowledge of their records said all three Slovaks have convictions for “economic and violent crime”.
A parallel trial is ongoing in Slovakia of a further six alleged associates of those convicted in Scotland.
The police officer in Scotland leading the fight against trafficking vowed to hunt down perpetrators no matter where in the world they were.
Detective Superintendant Fil Capaldi described such crimes as “insidious and sinister” and said that, if criminals worked across international borders, his team would mount international investigations to tackle them.
Det Supt Capaldi confirmed several anti-trafficking investigations were currently under way in Scotland and added contingency plans were in place ahead of Brexit to bring changes to the way officers work with European colleagues.
Scottish detectives worked with officers from other UK forces, Europol and the Slovak Police Force to form a joint investigation team (JIT) on Operation Synapses.
Speaking to The Sunday Post, Det Supt Capaldi, head of Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit, said: “We will investigate those involved in human trafficking wherever they are, in whichever country they are, be it in the UK, Europe or anywhere in the world.
“We realise we cannot work in isolation. We will work collaboratively with agencies within the UK, with European forces and anyone else where we suspect a potential victim has been trafficked from another country into Scotland.
“We are currently engaged in a number of inquiries in Scotland involving human trafficking. We would not mention at this stage which nationalities are involved but, suffice to say, a number of investigations are ongoing within Scotland.”
He added: “Brexit is ultimately for politicians to decide. We will continue to do what we do and, should the arrangements currently in place change on January 31 if that’s the day the UK leaves the EU, we will re-assess at that point.
“However, Police Scotland has been engaged in making contingency arrangements since the vote was passed to leave the EU. We will continue to do the work we do even if it’s not in exactly the same format as it is just now.
“Whatever happens, we will not move our focus from tackling human trafficking. None of the issues that might arise is insurmountable and it will not change our focus to work collaboratively with others to target potential traffickers.”
He added: “There is a big community aspect to human trafficking. Often it is hidden in plain sight and I would urge anyone with concerns that someone may have been trafficked into the country to contact us so we can investigate.
“Human trafficking is insidious because of its sinister and far-reaching nature. Organised crime groups are dealing with people as they would with any other commodity.
“For them, it’s just about money and they have no thought about the impact of what they do.”
Gombar, 61, his stepdaughter Sandorova, 28, her partner Ratislav Adam, 31, are currently in custody ahead of sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday.
They were convicted of a string of charges involving 14 women in total. Last month, we told how one of the victims, Adriana Adiova, had returned to her home in Slovakia after an ordeal which saw her lured to Scotland with the promise of farm work then sold as a slave into a sham marriage.