Rogue gangmasters alleged to have warned migrants they would be killed “like Alisa” if they failed to pay up

Multi Agency Police operation Endeavour. Wisbech.

Multi Agency Police operation Endeavour. Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

Migrants who complained at their treatment by rogue gangmasters were warned they would be killed “like Alisa” if they did not pay up, a court heard.

The chilling reference to the death of Latvian teenager Alisa Dmitrijeva, whose body was found on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in January 2012, came as a court heard the two men used fear and intimidation to control female workers.

Ivars Mezals, 28, and Juris Valujevs, 36, used fear and debt to control the workers who sometimes received £20 a week, Blackfriars Crown Court was told.

Mezals, of Conference Way, Wisbech, and Valujevs, of Cresswell Street, King’s Lynn, each deny acting as a gangmaster without a licence and another charge of fraud between January 2009 and October 2013.

Valujevs’ wife, Oksana Valujeva, 33, also of Cresswell Street, Lynn, and Lauma Vankova, 26, of Turbus Road, Lynn, are also on trial accused of helping the men coerce female workers to take part in sham marriages to repay “debts” they owed.

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Gregory Perrins, prosecuting, said one woman was fined £100 a day when she was unable to work because her child was ill.

Migrants who complained about their unfair debt were told: “If you don’t pay, your life will be ended like Alisa’s.”

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Two men were arrested in connection with the death of Miss Dmitrijeva, 17, who disappeared in August 2011. But neither was ever charged and an inquest last month heard that a cause of death could not be established.

The trial is expected to last 10 weeks.

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