Inside house where 29 slaves were kept by couple who gambled away their wages


Couple jailed for a total of 25 years for keeping slaves in Bristol house
Maros Tancos, 45, and Joanna Gomulska, 46, used dozens of slaves as cash cows (Picture: SWNS)

A couple who forced 29 migrants into slavery to fund their gambling addictions have been jailed for a combined total of 25 years.

Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, from Bristol, used their links to care homes and orphanages in Slovakia to recruit desperate men, promising them transport to the UK, housing and steady work.

When they arrived, the men were made to work for nothing at Tancos’ car wash while the couple siphoned off their earnings from other menial jobs in the evening and at night.

‘Mastermind’ Tancos, 45, terrified them into submission with beatings and death threats, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Meanwhile, Gomulska, 46, played ‘good cop’, helping them set up bank accounts and National Insurance numbers, before confiscating their cards and pin numbers.

Many ended up working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, while living up to 10 at a time in a squalid house with three bedrooms and one bathroom which one victim described as a ‘gate to hell’.

Loft Room. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple?s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
One victim forced to live in the cramped house described it ‘a gate to hell’ (Picture: NCA / SWNS)
Bunk beds. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple?s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
Four men were packed into bunk beds in one bedroom (Pictre: NCA / SWNS)
House conditions. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple?s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
The other five beds were crammed in the loft, while the house only had one bathroom (Picture: NCA / SWNS)

The couple funnelled £300,000 out of the men’s accounts from 2010 to 2017 and splurged the cash in casinos and on online betting sites and second-hand cars.

They were snared in a National Crime Agency sting after one victim escaped home to Slovakia and complained to local police.

A raid on an address in north Bristol found five Slovakian men living in cramped rooms on filthy bedding and mattresses patched up with pieces of cardboard.

Maros Tancos arrest. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple?s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
‘Mastermind’ Maros Tancos abused his links to ophanages in Slovakia to find victims (Picture: SWNS)
Joanna Gomulska at car wash. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple???s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos??? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
Gomulska hoarded the men’s bank cards and ID papers while they worked at her partner’s car wash (Picture: SWNS)

They had hidden pocket change and SIM cards in their socks and shoes in an effort to stop Tancos and Gomulska from completely fleecing them.

Dozens of photos of bank cards, pin numbers, ID documents and flight details were found on the couple’s phones, as well as information revealing they had taken out several loans in their victims’ names.

A joint British-Slovakian investigation traced 42 potential victims, of whom 29 were prepared to give evidence.

Living conditions in Slovakia. A couple who kept vulnerable people as slaves and made them work for free at a car wash business in Bristol have been jailed for a total of 25 years following a National Crime Agency investigation. See SWNS story SWBRslavery. Maros Tancos and Joanna Gomulska, both 46, were the ringleaders of a modern slavery and human trafficking operation in Bristol, persuading vulnerable people to travel from Slovakia to work for them. Tancos would use his links to orphanages and camps in Slovakia to recruit victims, promising them transport, a place to live and food, and a better life. Victims were told they would get to keep half of their wages every month, whilst the other half would go towards food and living costs. However, on arrival, victims were kept in squalor in the couple?s three bedroom home in Brentry Lane, Bristol, and forced to work for free. They said they were locked in the house and had identity documents and mobile phones taken from them. Tancos? co-conspirator, Gomulska, helped with arrangements to transport workers in the UK. She would take their identity documents and only release them when they were needed for applications like National Insurance numbers or bank accounts. Gomulska would accompany victims to appointments and would act as the interpreter before taking their bank cards and pin numbers.
The couple targeted destitute men living in Slovakian orphanages and homes (Picture: NCA / SWNS)

Detectives say the true victim count could be considerably higher as they were unable to find many of the people whose names came up in the paperwork.

The couple were prosecuted for offences against 15 of the men and convicted of nine counts of human trafficking and forced labour as well as one count of conspiracy to acquire criminal property.

Sentencing Tancos to 16 years and Gomulska to nine, Judge Martin Picton told them: ‘The victims had cash value to you in the same way cattle would to a farmer.’

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Bristol – Metro