Gang’s vic­tims ex­ploited af­ter prom­ise of work

West Lothian Courier - - Front Page - Sean O’Neil

Four men have been jailed for a to­tal of nearly 20 years for a string of of­fences in­clud­ing money laun­der­ing and fraud.

Lat­vian na­tion­als Hardijs Lang­steins ( 37), Maris Kur­sis (30), Ai­vars Dza­gar­jan (28) and Arvids Civkors (30) were each sen­tenced to four years and 11 months in prison at Ed­in­burgh Sher­iff Court.

The gang were re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing Lat­vian na­tion­als into the UK and hous­ing them in crowded ac­com­mo­da­tion at sev­eral ad­dresses in West Loth­ian.

A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion launched in April 2016 found that vic­tims be­lieved they would be of­fered em­ploy­ment, usu­ally at a ware­house in Bath­gate where Civkors worked.

Some vic­tims were forced to sur­ren­der their wages to the group, oth­ers were forced to open bank ac­counts which were then used for money laun­der­ing and fraud by the gang.

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Stephen Healy said: “We are pleased with the con­vic­tions and cus­to­dial sen­tences for mem­bers of this crime group, who ex­ploited vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims for fi­nan­cial gain.

“We hope that the cus­to­dial

sen­tences will send a clear mes­sage that dis­suades oth­ers from be­com­ing in­volved in this type of or­gan­ised crime, while also pro­vid­ing con­fi­dence for other vic­tims to come for­ward.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties can rest as­sured that in cases like this we work closely with Crown Of­fice and are strongly sup­ported by other part­ner agen­cies, who are all com­mit­ted to bring­ing those re­spon­si­ble for such of­fences to jus­tice, whilst pro­vid­ing vic­tims with all the nec­es­sary sup­port and as­sis­tance they may re­quire.”

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