Investigative journalist Sam Poling goes undercover to expose the ruthless tactics used in the human trafficking supply chain and discovers shocking links to Scotland.
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Tonight, a journey through the ruthless world of human trafficking.
You think your daughter may have been trafficked back to Glasgow
Green smack if I ask the question directly want to ask, the men will
get angry. I filmed those at the heart of the
supply chain. I am not a trafficker. Who is the trafficker, then?
I discover a multi-million pound criminal network.
I'm shocked by that, to hear it. I have no words for it.
And investigate the trade right on our doorstep.
You don't know any of the names of the people?
Tonight, Humans for Sale. It's early morning, I've just
arrived at a service station on the outskirts of London. I've been told
that three times a week a bus from Romania pulls into this car park.
It's just before 2am in the morning. The information I have is, the bus
set off from Romania two days ago, it has been travelling nonstop for
two days. When it comes here, the people get off and are separated
into minibuses. I am waiting on these minibuses to arrive.
Minutes later and four empty minibuses with Romanian numberplates
turn up. All I need now is for the
long-distance coach to arrive. 2:50 and no sign of the bus, but the
minibuses are still there, so... There is a bus.
The bus is filled with Romanian 's, they've just travel nonstop for more
than 60 hours, crossing seven countries to get here, their final
destination, the UK. They will all have come willingly, it's just some
may have been trafficked. I guess if I want to find out more,
about where these people have come from, and what their stories are, or
stories of people like them, then I'm going to have to get that bus.
Human trafficking is big business. People are now the second most
lucrative criminal commodity next to drugs, with lives being traded and
sold on a scale never seen before. I have spent the past six months
investigating this trade, and have witnessed some of the shocking and
ruthless ways in which humans are now being exploited.
My investigation begins here in the highlands of Scotland.
This man was working in his family's restaurant when he saw a job for a
tan dory chef in the UK. It was advertised by this man, who, after
giving him a job, was ordered to pay ?20,000, a Visa and paperwork.
He ran this hotel in a remote village near Fort William. As seen
in this online advert, the Hotel and grounds were catering. The job as a
tandoori chef was a lie. This was now his life, 22 hours a
day, seven days a week. A fellow Bangladeshi also became a slave,
both men realised they were trapped, victims of Labour trafficking, and
they had to stay under control if they had any hope of recovering
their money. During the time that you worked for
him, how much did you get paid? One of the Hotel's regular customers
was Alison Smith. After several months of befriending the men, they
opened up to what was being done to them. A friend had been beaten, a
opened up to what was being done to friend had been hurt by him. They
were frightened for their lives. The only thing dissing was the whip on
their back. -- missing. It was trafficking, and I couldn't believe
it. This had been going on under my nose and I didn't know anything
about it, and the community didn't know anything about it.
They were promised a wonderful life, and they got the exact opposite.
He was prosecuted for Labour trafficking, he was jailed for just
three years. With the legal case closed, both men
were ordered to leave the country by the Home Office, their Visa
applications reviews. A move, they said, has put their lives in danger,
still owing thousands to money lenders in Bangladesh.
If you don't pay them, what is the threat?
More than a third of all human traffickers victims are exploited
for Labour. I'm on my way to meet a man who spent years helping rescue
and support victims of the trafficking trade in Scotland.
People have got historic views of what human trafficking is. It is not
people snatched off the street and forced abroad. It is people being
sold an idea, a better life still, better housing and better income, an
opportunity to better their lives when they arrive here. Their travel
documents are taken from them and they put in atrocious accommodation,
usually overcrowded. They are not given the kind of job they expected
to get, if they get any job at all. How big is the problem here? The
victims run into millions. In Scotland alone, you are talking
thousands rather than hundreds or more than that.
Jim says he has watched entire communities become affected by human
traffickers, like Glasgow's Govanhill. There were a high number
of victims because there is a clear link between Eastern European crime
gangs. Human trafficking is one of the things they do. Butlins with
organised Asian gangs and Glasgow, the Asian gangs provide the
accommodation and there are a lot in Govanhill.
Roma communities from sabbatical, Czech Republic and Romania make up
more than a fifth of the local population. Those countries are the
most popular sources for trafficking. Most of the victims and
traffickers are Roma. It is little wonder, then, that areas like this
but repeatedly come to the attention of enforcement agencies
investigating human traffickers. Raids on properties here are a
familiar sight. This mother and daughter from a back year were
jailed after trafficking a young goal from eastern Europe to
Govanhill. As recently as February, goal from eastern Europe to
police arrested suspects in a sex goal from eastern Europe to
trafficking case. It is believed girls were being brought to
trafficking case. It is believed Govanhill from Slovakia and forced
into prostitution. Roma are one of the most vulnerable ethnic minority
into prostitution. Roma are one of groups in the world, and have been
marginalised and excluded for centuries. Trying to get any
information here is hard. The problem is that the Roma people
have faced years facing the worst kinds of discrimination, so they are
very private people. Trying to engage them in conversation is
difficult, let alone bringing up the subject of human traffickers.
If I want to try and investigate the supply chain, meet those at the
heart of the trade, then I need to go to where both the victims and the
traffickers are coming from. Slovakia, it only became independent
from Czechoslovakia in 1993. Since then, it has struggled to break the
cycle of poverty. Here, Romas are marginalised from the rest of the
population, living in squalid, shanty settlement is with little or
no money. Slovakia is one of the most popular sourced countries in
Europe for traffickers. The destination foremost of their
victims, the UK. I'm on my way to meet a man who
describes himself as a social worker. He works closely with
authorities in trafficking cases between Slovakia and Scotland.
He is one of the few people in this area prepared to work with the Roma
community, and here he is now. I am told that what he doesn't know about
trafficking in the area isn't worth knowing. People
nice to meet you, how are you? I am looking forward to today. Do you
have a plan for me? Yes, I have a plan for you. Shall we go and we
will talk and drive. Yeah. Let's just go.
He starts by taking me to a nearby house owned by a man who he says is
a trafficker. house owned by a man who he says is
Look at this place. This comfortable house. It's a nice house compared to
the rest of the houses. The guy is in Glasgow doing his business. He
says the man buys local Roma girls and sells them to men in Scotland.
One in six females trafficked to the UK today is sexually exploited.
Girls used to be one or two days. Trafficked from here to Glasgow by
car. Why are they kept there? To which the transport? Passports,
identity cards, passports, identity cards and then go.
Padlocked. He tells me the girls trafficked to Glasgow are sold to
Asian men, predominantly Pakistani or Indian, to take part in what is
referred to as a sham marriage. The men can then apply the UK
citizenship as they are now married to an EU citizen.
How many girls will have come here? Five? Ten? 100? More than a hundred.
Really? Really. Really. He has arranged for me to meet a
Roma girls sold to a Pakistani man in Glasgow two years ago for a sham
marriage. By the time she was rescued, she had already given birth
to a daughter. But when we get to the house, we are in for a surprise.
Maybe she is back to Glasgow. think your daughter may have been
trafficked back to Glasgow? OK. The parents don't seem concerned at all.
This is the third time your daughter has been trafficked? Yes.
The girl may have gone but she has left her young daughter behind.
This is her baby? She must miss her baby.
He says the girl was sold by a family friend. Most trafficking
victims are sold or bought by someone they know.
This is typical ghetto. Most of the people living here, that ideal life
is to get to Great Britain. He takes me round the area to meet people he
is to get to Great Britain. He takes says are either traffickers or
victims of the trade. We go from house to house, village to village.
I'm told I can't film those I meet because it's too dangerous. I'm
trying to investigate the trafficking of young people from
Slovakia to the UK. Do you believe your sister was trafficked? You have
never heard of trafficking before? Some people are saying that these
girls have been trafficked. It seems more girls have been sold to gangs
in Scotland. We know there are three girls currently missing who are back
in the UK in Glasgow. Yes. Fear of speaking out against the trafficker
is clear. TRANSLATION: I am a little bit afraid. I am afraid because I
don't want to have problems. It is estimated the money made by
traffickers runs into billions. It is little wonder they don't tolerate
people speaking out. What kind of repercussions has there been when
people have spoken out? When they have spoken out, the trafficker can
come directly or indirectly and will beat them. The threats of violence
are real? Yes. He tells me the Roma traffickers cannot operate without
the permission of the leaders each settlement. He takes me to meet one
such leader. Known locally as a man handy with his fists. Much of his
life has been spent behind bars for violence. He is reluctant to be
filmed but eventually allows my camera in. I am from the UK and in
the UK there are many Roma people there.
What is this? He shows me the conditions he and his family live
in. This is the only bathroom? I ask him whether he knows anything about
the trafficking of goals to the UK for marriage. -- girls.
His evasiveness makes me suspicious. He is lying. Yes. His own daughter,
his son. He sold his own daughter? Yes. The daughter is married to a
Pakistani guy. He stood there and said nothing. He is a prize fighter
and he spent his life in prison. I think we have to let this one go.
Maybe he's not the man to... Yes, shall we go? I wonder how he can be
so sure of Victor's involvement in the trafficking trade. He then tells
me payments are being made between Victor and the man Victor sold his
daughter to in Glasgow. And you know this, how? Because you are the one
that passes the money across? Yes. You didn't tell me that before. What
happened? Tell me about the money. The Pakistani guy used to send money
to the family through my own address. I go to them every week. I
hadn't expected human trafficking to be embedded so much in communities
here. I wasn't prepared for quite how organised and lucrative a
criminal enterprise, the selling of humans had become. How old is this
one that we are going to see? 22. The woman was sold into waste Sham
marriage with a Pakistani man in the UK. He tells me to pay attention to
the birth certificate of the woman's young son. This birth certificate,
there is no farther's name. She is not obliged to say the father's
name. My questions about the father change the atmosphere. I am not
allowed to ask questions? If I start to ask the questions I really want
to ask, the men are going to get very angry? OK. The mother-in-law
makes a phone call. He tells me it is to the trafficker who demands to
speak to the young woman. I think we can't wait ask her much more. I
think we should go. The camera is turned off and I leave can sue --
confused actors -- as to the relevance of the blank birth
certificate. No name. That is the normal thing. The Pakistani guy can
claim at any time he is the father. I can understand... Right, sorry, I
just understand. It is a good thing there is no father's name because
just understand. It is a good thing anyone can buy that woman and the
Child and claim that child as theirs anyone can buy that woman and the
because they have deliberately left that blank. Even though she has been
trafficked once, she can be trafficked again and again. She will
be worth a lot of money. The man pretending to the father can explore
be worth a lot of money. The man human rights laws claiming he can be
deported from his country of choice and he's the baby's parent. My time
was a lesson for me in how the people at the heart of the
trafficking trade on nothing more than a lucrative commodity. When you
see the little they come from, it is clear the profit margins are huge.
Just a short drive away on the outskirts of the city of Kosice is
this place, Lunik IX. It houses the largest Roma community in Slovakia.
It is estimated around 7500 people live here. Few have electricity.
There's no heating, no running water. Hepatitis, scabies and
meningitis are common. Unemployment is almost 100%. Bus drivers who stop
here receive a special hazard pay. Its communities like these which the
traffickers deliberately target. As I look around, I'm approached by a
young girl in the gathering crowd. How tough is life here? Very hard.
You see. It shocks me. So many people don't understand. They don't
want to give me a job because I am a gypsy. She says she is here visiting
family and she understands why people are desperate to escape the
grinding poverty as she did. If people say they have a dream and the
dream is to go to the UK... Yes, that is the dream, definitely. You
see, come with me to the car, don't take anything, they will run. If
someone said they will give me a job, take to the UK, you would go?
Definitely. I don't think about this. What at the -- what if at the
other end it was all lies, that is not true? That is the problem. Some
people are lying. When you look not true? That is the problem. Some
the poverty, she is talking sense. How tempting Obika somebody to come
along and say, I'll give you a job, I'll give you money, I'll give you
accommodation. Just the basics. I can understand the temptation when
the traffickers come to town. Such vulnerability, such desperation
makes communities like this one rich pickings for the trafficker. Their
profits are an easy get. But some Roma communities in this
region do have money. Towns like this one where the houses are known
as smarty houses because of their bright colours. This resident says
he has watched the wealth of his bright colours. This resident says
town grow in recent years. Historically and a great number of
people from here would traffickers. They were responsible for the
movement of people trafficking to the UK. How did the people feel
about the fact that this is known everywhere else as the trafficking
town? There is something else at work
here. Many of these houses lie empty. The residents don't seem to
be at home. What's it is to the people living who own these houses?
Anglo Slovak links become apparent. This is a British registration
plate. Do you get many British registration plates here? Right now,
there is not too many. The ironic thing is these houses are the
holiday homes. They commute to the UK? A car breaks down beside me. The
driver, a resident of Govanhill. You can travel to deepest, darkest
Slovakia and meet someone who used to working Govanhill. Nice to meet
you. It is clear strong economic links have developed between
Scotland and Slovakia but how much of it is built on the success of the
trafficking trade between the two countries? Slovakian police have
unit dedicated to tackling the trafficking trade and its efforts
have been recognised worldwide as having had some considerable
success. They show me some recent cases. That is where they live?
They'll traffickers? -- they are traffickers?
Here they are on a night rate apprehend the traffickers behind a
forced begging gang. Here, rescuing some of the victims. And another
arrest. A man believed to be part of an organised crime gang.
Adrian leads the unit responsible for the trafficking across Slovakia.
They want to get their investment back, so it's a win, win?
During my time into a back year, I've seen the kind of poverty I
never expected to see within Europe. And how desperation to escape is
leading so many young women into the arms of traffickers. I'm beginning
to understand how deeply complex it arms of traffickers. I'm beginning
is, and why this exploitation is so difficult to fight.
Back in Scotland, and I wonder how I can see if sham marriages of
trafficked girls really are a part of life in Glasgow as I have been
told in Slovakia. I decide to check of life in Glasgow as I have been
Scotland's marriage records for some of the most common is a and Roma
maiden names. I then look for suspicious markers. An Asian married
name, a young bride, the same address registered repeatedly, and
tellingly, how many got divorced after the five-year Mark, the length
of time you have to have residency before being granted a UK passport.
I find dozens of marriages between young, Eastern European girls and
older Asian men. I find 70 marriages between the two community is
registered in Glasgow, a third in Govanhill. And 40% of those who
married there just over five years ago, the cut off for the passport,
are now divorced. And there is one more tell-tale sign, it will trace
of the couples living at their registered addresses. This cropped
up many times. This street has got more than a dozen links to marriages
between Pakistani men and Eastern European brides in recent years. In
a second-floor flat, it is linked to three marriages. Two brides were
teenagers, one was a 17-year-old Romanian marrying a Pakistani man a
decade older than her. I am going to try and see if I can speak to them.
It is that number... I will see if they are there.
Hello, I am looking for Mr... He was registered as being married and
living here, but he is not here? No? Right, so none of them are living
there. 17-year-old bride from Romania, and a groom from Pakistan
gave this as their address. The man that was registered as living here,
he's gone and his wife, she's gone. Believe it or not, a flat on the
other side, there is another groom and his bride. Right, so... Mr...
Isn't there. The next one, the bride and groom
gave this as their address. You don't know any of the names of
the people? Right, no luck getting anyone. More
than a dozen marriages linked to this street, brides, grooms,
witnesses to the weddings. And all of the doors that knocked, not one
couple lives there. Not one witness. Nobody.
It's not definitive proof of sham marriages, but all the signs appear
to be there. Where women are usually trafficked
for a sham marriage or sexual exploitation, for men it is Labour
the traffickers exploit them for. An EU citizen currently has the right
to work in the UK. Brexit may stop this free movement, but it's not
to work in the UK. Brexit may stop expected to prevent the vulnerable
from being trafficked when they apply to come, such is the lure of
the UK. We had a phone call into the BBC
Newsroom Live from a group of construction workers from Romania
who said they had been trafficked here, that they hadn't been paid,
the conditions were really bad, they weren't able to eat, and they gave
me the name and telephone number of the man they say trafficked them.
Now, I phoned this man, this alleged trafficker, and strangely enough, he
Now, I phoned this man, this alleged has agreed to meet me. So I'm going
to go and see him now, and see what he says.
Hi, Sam. Hi. Can I come in? Please. This is your new place? Yes. It is
quite empty. It is only you here? Yeah. Where are the other men? They
have gone back to Romania. They have gone? Yes. He tells me he has not
been paid for a large contract which brought over a large number of men
from Remainiac. How many? 30. You brought 30
from Remainiac. here? -- Romania.
You promised them the work that was promised to you? Yes. He denies
mistreating the men and says he is out of pocket.
Do you feel exploited? Of course I do. I spend my money, my profit, I
work, and they promised me one thing, and it happens something
else. I feel like a slave. Have you been trafficked? Yes. If you were
else. I feel like a slave. Have you traffic, then the menu brought
across were trafficked? Of course. Does that make you the trafficker? I
am not a trafficker. Who is the trafficker, then? The man 's work
for us. There is no money how he promised.
I don't know what to think about promised.
him. He is either someone who is doing this alt of the goodness of
his heart, and bringing these men across to provide them job
opportunities in a country they want to create a future in, or he's a
trafficker. The problem is trying to prove the
difference. When there's complicity by the victim, no matter how small,
how do you prove force? Especially when those doing the trafficking are
amongst some of the world's most organised and ruthless criminal
gangs, as I'm about to discover. The former Communist country of
Romania is still trying to shake off its reputation for corruption. Steep
and complex organised criminal networks spread their tentacles
across Europe. I'm travelling west to one of the worst problems of
child exploitation in the whole country.
This is one of our safe homes. We cannot give you the address, you
know? It looks from the outside like one of any houses in the village.
This woman runs a charity that rescues and houses girls that have
been trafficked. There are cameras, safety bars,
doors are locked, this is necessary to protect the girls.
Human traffickers is the second most to protect the girls.
profitable criminal industry in the world. To these criminals, they are
an investment. They want them back. Has anybody ever tried to snatch
their investment back? Yes, we had situations when people found where
the girls go to school. And we had girls that have been kidnapped from
school. By the traffickers? Yes, they want them back. They want them
back. Living at the safe house is Anna. At
just 14 years of, she was trafficked by a family friend for sexual
exploitation, and forced into prostitution.
For the next three months, and was prostituted, raped repeatedly by
client after client. I know this is so hard, was this
something that happened once a week, once a day? How often?
How do you survive that, in your head?
Could you escape? Why couldn't you leave?
The men who raped her were all aged between 50 and 70.
In terms of trying to get your life back, how are you managing to do
that? Are you scared you will be
trafficked again? Unlike Slovakia where the victims
are harvested from impoverished communities, in this part of
Romania, poverty isn't quite as endemic so the traffickers have to
be more sophisticated. They go near schools. Internet.
Social media, it's a source of recruiting. These girls will be
raped, will be beaten, will be humiliated. You have a girl that is,
has 5-9 clients a night. And the next day, she has two clean the
toilets, make the breakfast for the trafficker, be nice to him. At some
point, they give up. You cannot measure the damage. It's a broken
life. It's a broken life. She tells me that the links between
the UK and Romania have grown stronger in recent years and become
ever more apparent. She tells me to head to a nearby town known as the
Gypsy Palace Town. If you are looking for what they
call Gypsy wealth, this is it come the town of Gypsy palaces. This is
money on an unbelievable scale. I passed one of the biggest mansions
in the town, and suddenly realise why I was sent here. Oh, my
goodness, look at that. Look at that. British registration plate.
British registration plate. British registration plate. What's that one?
British registration plate. Every vehicle outside that particular
Gypsy Palace, as they are called, is a British registration plate. In
fact, the whole town is filled with them.
Locale many British registration plates. Caravans, cars. If you
needed any more evidence of the strong links between Eastern Europe
and the UK and the amount of money flowing between the two, then look
no further than here. Few prosecutions mean it is hard to
fully understand what happens to victims once they've been
trafficked. I'm on my way to meet a lawyer who helped the British police
build cases against some of the most serious and organised trafficking
gangs. Hi, nice to meet you. How wide you? She says once trafficked,
the victims will be traded between the gangs who bid against each other
during live auctions. The girl will be presented most of the time naked
so the evaluation can go according to the way that girl would produce
money. The women are forced to sleep with one of the traffickers and
perceived how well she does it. The prices would be settled according to
be a age, according to the appearance, whether that person is a
virgin person or not a virgin person. That would also rise the
price so she can start being exploited for prostitution, domestic
exploitation, agriculture and begging. In terms of prices, what
kind of prices? A few thousand euros. She says in pursuit of profit
of the trafficking gangs have begun to diversify. There are very poor
people who are willing to sell one of their organs or part of their
organs. She shows me how an Internet search for kidneys reveals a list of
people willing to sell their organs. That person is 18 years old. This is
the price. 30,000 euros. For the kidney or a part of the liver of
25,000 euros negotiable. The traffickers would take advantage of
these people by making the arrangements for the harvesting of
the organs? They would contact them and tell them, you are willing to
sell your organs, I am having somebody who wants to buy it. After
the operation took place, they would realise that they are not receiving
the money and they have been trafficked. Would you want to try to
call one of these numbers? Yes, we can call one now. I spot one of the
members has a British prefix. She calls the number.
I have asked, is the 50,000 euros the last price? I asked, do you know
the contexts in which we can do this? He said, "I think it will be
better in Romania but we can do it also here." In London? Yes. I am
shocked by that. I am. Traffickers, regardless of their speciality, sex,
labour, organs, have to move their victims quickly, easily and in large
numbers. I've been told that buses run three times a week to the UK
filled with people chasing work. It is the same bus which Sauron uses to
bring his men over. It is the same one I filmed at the service station.
How long does it take? It is a route I know the traffickers use, a route
I want to capture on camera. It is early morning in Romania's
capital, Bucharest. I'm on my way to a car park on the outskirts of the
city. I'm told a minibus will pick me up. The man with me is security
posing as my travelling companion. We ask for one-way tickets to
Glasgow. The driver once ?165 each in sterling. Over the next ten
hours, we had north begin up more and more Romania and passengers.
We're driving to meet a long-distance coach that will take
us to the UK. I just poured into a place and this is where we meet the
bus and then we start from here across Austria, Germany, France. The
bus seems to be preparing for a journey that is long haul in the UK.
How long will you go to the UK for? One-year, two years. Where do you to
work? Are you working there also? Construction? Wow! The bus is fall.
Nearly all are going to the UK for work. Many in response to online
adverts. Others going on the promise of a job. Head of this, three days,
seven countries, 2000 miles. The film being shown as Romania and
subtitles. That is a film about human trafficking. Why run it? This
19-year-old is going to Crawley. Is the money good? ?118 a week? I am
struggling with trying to work out the difference between those who are
effectively trafficked on this bus or those who are being exploited.
They pay for your accommodation and things? This man is heading to
Coventry to work in a warehouse but it is not his first time working in
the UK. Do you feel exploited their sometimes? You are working with ?4
an hour? That is exploitation. When you speak to these people, they
are full of hopes and dreams of something better waiting for them in
the UK. I wonder how many of them will go on to realise they've been
not only exploited, but conned and trafficked.
Three days after leaving, we arrive at the same London service station I
filmed at a few weeks earlier. As I watch everyone disappear into the
night in minibuses for their new lives around the UK, I get into the
one bound for Scotland. I wonder lives around the UK, I get into the
which one of my travel companions being exploited will find out they
have been trafficked. Back home, there is one thing to do. I call the
have been trafficked. Back home, man in London selling his kidney. Is
he one of the crawl aspects of the trafficking trade of organs or just
desperate for money? We meet. He says he is called Adrian. With him
as a woman he says is his wife. He is also selling her kidney. This is
all very new for me. I tell him the kidney is for my
cousin who is sick. Where will it take place?
He tells me we need to make a private pavement the doctor carrying
out the operation. The secret pavement of the doctor?
-- payment. It is the woman's kidney he keeps referring to. She remains
strangely quiet. Are you scared for your wife?
His ease with this criminal approaches surprising bearing in
mind his previous profession. He tells me he's aware traffickers
are now targeting those selling organs.
I tell him I'll be in touch and we say goodbye. Thank you so much,
goodbye. When asked for comment by the BBC, he denied having a kidney
for sale. Selling their own organs, buying into dreams, wanting the
escape. I realise now these choices often are made over sheer
desperation. Sometimes makes the victim is complicit in their own
trafficking. Such is the need to chase the promise of something
better and having seen what I have and heard from those who have lived
at the heart of it, who can blame them?
Human trafficking is big business, making billions for organised crime gangs around the world. Investigative journalist Sam Poling goes undercover to expose the ruthless tactics used in the supply chain and discovers shocking links to Scotland. She travels to eastern Europe to track down victims sold to Glasgow gangs for sex and witnesses the grinding poverty which is putting people at the mercy of those cashing in on human misery.