Eleven members of the Rooney family in Lincoln were convicted of fraud and slavery in four trials for forcing 18 victims to work for little or no pay and live in squalid conditions for up to 26 years, the Guardian reported on Friday.
The report came a day after the National Crime Agency (NCA) said modern slavery and human trafficking was far more prevalent than previously thought, with potentially tens of thousands of victims in the UK.
The members of the Rooney family targeted vulnerable people, including some with alcohol or drug addiction, and deliberately looked for potential captives on the streets, Nottingham crown court heard.
The impact of the forced labor on the mental and physical health of the victims had been severe, prosecutors said, with some being malnourished, subjected to beatings and threatened.
“These members of the Rooney family lived lives of luxury at the expense of their victims, condemning them to live in fear, misery and squalor. For them, exploitation, violence and extortion were a way of life. The defendants have caused serious harm to the people they exploited, some of whom have now passed away,” said Janine Smith of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Some of the victims tried to run away but were tracked down by the Rooney family and taken back to the sites.
The Rooney family would give alcohol and drugs to the victims in an attempt to keep them under their control, the CPS said.
They would control their bank accounts and savings and help themselves to the victims money.
The Rooney family would also fraudulently instigate benefit claims in their names and use the money for holidays to Barbados, cosmetic surgery and coaching at football school.
Sentencing will begin on September 7.
Key slavery sectors
The National Crime Agency (NCA) says the key sectors for slave workers are domestic and care workers, food processing, construction, car washes, fishing and agriculture. Sexual exploitation, however, is the most common form of modern slavery reported in the UK.
Slaves exploited in the UK are chiefly from eastern and southeastern Europe, Nigeria and Vietnam, according to the NCA.