Three human traffickers who forced women from eastern Europe into sex work at a network of brothels around south west England - including in Swindon - have been jailed.

The group’s ringleader, 52-year-old Maciej Kozlowski, formerly of Midland Road in Gloucester, was also convicted of raping a woman whom the group later exploited.

'Whore place'

The investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, supported by Gloucestershire Constabulary and Wiltshire Police, gathered evidence showing that Kozlowski led the trafficking operation under various aliases with 57-year-old Piotr Lebek, formerly of Faulkner Street in Gloucester, as his main assistant.

Lebek collected victims from airports, moved them between brothels, picked up cash they had been paid, then reported back to Kozlowski on their takings. In one text, Lebek said he was “off to the whore place”.

Agata Jankowska, 37, from Stroud Road in Gloucester, booked victims’ flights into the UK and controlled some of the phones used to book their appointments while Lidia Grzybowska, 45, from Musselburgh in Scotland, controlled the other phones used for bookings.

Both women would pretend to be the sex workers, leaving the victims with no control over what they were being told to do or when.

Swindon Advertiser: Piotr Lebek with a human trafficking victim at Luton AirportPiotr Lebek with a human trafficking victim at Luton Airport (Image: South West Regional Organised Crime Unit)

Kozlowski, Lebek, and Jankowska pleaded guilty to trafficking at least 20 women over two years, mainly from Poland, to work in brothels at flats in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon, Kettering, Coventry, Nottingham, Worcester, and South Wales.

At Bristol Crown Court on Friday, Kozlowski was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison - nine for trafficking and causing prostitution and five for rape.

Lebek will be behind bars for seven years and six months for trafficking and causing prostitution.

Jankowska received three years and four months for trafficking and controlling prostitution. All three will be on the Sexual Offenders Register for five years.

Grzybowska will be sentenced at a later date.

To help secure these guilty pleas, investigators gathered records of the group’s movements between airports and brothels, thousands of messages arranging appointments, photos taken for online adverts, messages reporting cash collected from victims, and evidence of shopping trips for bedding, wet wipes, condoms, and mobile phone top-ups.

Swindon Advertiser: Piotr Lebek waiting at Luton AirportPiotr Lebek waiting at Luton Airport (Image: South West Organised Crime Unit)

Det Supt Charlotte Tucker led the SWROCU investigation.

She said: “This group was making huge amounts of money by trafficking women into and around the country to exploit like commodities, profiting from the risks these vulnerable victims took and the ‘work’ they endured.

“They showed total contempt for the women they exploited, with Kozlowski even raping one victim in a bid to recruit her to work for his group. She, and other victims, have described the long-term harm they have suffered.

“I hope the sentences handed down bring her and the other women some closure, give other victims confidence that we will do all we can to investigate and bring such offenders to justice, and show the public that we all must do more to give such victims a voice.

“These women were being put to work in flats and houses in our communities. Please learn to spot the signs and report any suspicions.”

Detective Inspector Rory Ainslie, from Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, added: “The conviction of this organised crime group is down to strong joined up working by multiple agencies across the criminal justice system and law enforcement.

"Through this partnership approach, we are transforming the way that the CPS and police handle and investigate rape and sexual assault cases, and are working together to ensure that victims are supported throughout the prosecution process.

“I would like to commend the victims in this case for coming forward and supporting the prosecution.

“Thanks to the strong, trusting relationship they built with officers, they felt able to describe in very honest detail the impact that this horrific offence has had on them and their families.

“Their courage and resilience, together with the dedication of the investigation team, has ensured that we have achieved a positive outcome.”