A gang who forced vulnerable and penniless women into prostitution and slavery sold one victim for £10,000 outside a Primark, a court heard.
Four members of the human trafficking group were today convicted of bringing women from Slovakia to Glasgow.
Vojtech Gombar, 61, Anil Raj Wagle, 37, Jana Sandorova, 28, and Ratislav Adam, 31, denied the charges but were found guilty following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
They lured their victims in with “false promises” of a better life and job.
The court heard that one of the women was forced to have sex with two or three Pakistani men in a day for at least eight months.
Police snared the gang through a five-year international operation code-named Operation Synapsis.
They said some of the victims, who were kept in flats in the city’s Govanhill, were sexually exploited and sold into sham marriages.
Officers said the women were “bought and sold like commodities”.
During the trial, one woman giving evidence via videolink from Slovakia said she was “forced” to marry a man, with the gang members saying it was “good business”.
She told the court she had been offered a well-paid job in England picking potatoes but arrived in Glasgow and did not know where she was and was “afraid”.
She said she was kept in flats before being moved to Ireland and married to a Pakistani man she did not know.
She told police in a statement that ringleader Gombar would receive 4,000 euro (£3,631) for the wedding.
Jurors heard how one victim was sold for £10,000 outside Primark in the city’s Argyle Street.
Five of the women were brought over for arranged marriages to Pakistani men. Some of the women – though not all – were forced into prostitution.
One was turned back at Calais by UK Border Force officers.
She had no possessions or money and was accompanied by Gombar, who had two suitcases containing his possessions. He abandoned her at the ferry port.
Jurors today returned verdicts after more than five days of deliberations.
Gombar was found guilty of 13 charges involving eight of the women. An accusation involving a ninth woman was found not proven.
Wagle was convicted of four charges mainly involving one of the victims.
Sandorova was meantime guilty of six charges featuring two women. Adam was finally convicted of seven charges involving three victims.
Lord Beckett remanded the gang – all from Govanhill – in custody pending sentencing for reports.
They will return to the dock in Edinburgh on November 8.
The trial, which lasted around seven weeks, heard how all of the women had come to Scotland with the promise of a better life and a job.
But, they were either forced to take part in marriages against their will or made to work as prostitutes.
Jurors heard the harrowing stories of the vulnerable victims who arrived penniless, with no possessions and only the clothes they were wearing.
Their ID cards, which could have helped them to flee back home were snatched.
The women – who did not speak any English – were watched and never allowed out on their own.
The horrific crimes only came to light after one brave woman managed to escape and run to a shop in the southside of the city for help.
She spoke only Roma and Slovakian – but, the shopkeeper – who did not understand her – phoned police.
The officers asked two young girls in the store to help with translation.
They then managed to work out that Gombar had her ID card. The document was found in Gombar’s flat.
Prosecutor Kath Harper said: “Vojtech Gombar shows a startlingly clear, compelling and powerful pattern of behaviour in recruiting, transporting and exploiting these women.
“He exploited them by either forcing them into marriage with virtual strangers from which he benefitted financially and/ or forcing them into prostitution from which he and his associates benefitted.”
The court heard that one of the women was forced to have sex with two or three men Pakistani men in a day for at least eight months.
Ms Harper said: “Her autonomy was completely stripped from her and her body became nothing but a vehicle for Gombar and others to make money.
“It is perhaps hard to imagine a more callous and uncaring way to treat another human being.”
One woman told of how Sandorova gave her a short skirt and ‘sexy’ clothing so that she would look more provocative and make money from prostitution.
Another victim overheard a conversation between Adam and Gombar.
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She told the court: “I believe he was involved in a similar thing to what Vojtech Gombar was doing, like taking girls and so on.
“At the time he had no girls, however I heard him say he be doing the same thing as Gombar, according to what I heard he was planning to get girls for sale.”
Ms Harper said: “Ratislav Adam was acting along with Gombar in controlling one woman and keeping her in servitude, if not slavery.
“He sold a woman in the city centre of Glasgow along with Jana Sandorova to Anil Wagle.
“After varying amounts of time the women did get away, but it was rarely anything to do with the accused.”
Lord Beckett heaped praise on the Slovakian authorities in helping get justice in Scotland.
He said: “Without the invaluable, international co-operation this trial could not have taken place.
“Their efforts has allowed justice to be done in relation to very serious and damaging criminal conduct.”