THEY had a built a family life in Glasgow, appearing to be a settled part of the city’s new Slovakian community.

A close-knit extended family who had found work and were putting children through school. But, privately, the group was carrying out despicable crimes, ruining the lives of young women and teenage girls as part of a human trafficking gang.

Ringleader Vojtech Gombar was the patriarch. The 61-year-old used connections in Slovakia to identify vulnerable women whom he then manipulated and exploited, trading them like chattel across international borders. The fate of the women varied: some were forced to work as prostitutes, while others were sold into sham marriages with Asian men looking for visas to remain in the UK.

His Glasgow-based associates were step-daughter, Jana Sandorova, and Sandorova’s husband, Rastislav Adam.

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Joining the crime gang was Anil Raj Wagle, perhaps the most unusual link in the chain. Unlike his fellow gang members, Wagle is not Slovakian. He is Nepalese and came to Glasgow as a student around 10 years ago, studying at Cardonald College and then taking IT courses at Glasgow Caledonian University.

But Wagle was leading a double life. While studying and working in part-time jobs, such as with Tesco in customer service and for Makro cash and carry, the 37-year-old was becoming embroiled in serious and organised crime. His connection with Gombar, Adam and Sandorova would see him become involved in selling – and buying – women for sex.

In one case, a pregnant teenage girl was brought to Wagle outside Primark in Argyle Street, Glasgow. Against this banal backdrop, the girl, brought under false pretences from Slovakia, was sold to Wagle for £10,000. He took the 19-year-old into the store to buy her clothes before returning with her to his flat in Langside Road, Govanhill.

The teenager, who is now 24, was forced into prostitution by the gang before being sold to Wagle, whom she said had sex with her every day against her will.

Describing her treatment as “horrendous”, the woman would be locked in the flat while Wagle, whom she knew as Nel, went out to work. He would take photographs of her in a state of undress and send them to the partner she had left behind in Slovakia while asking for money for her. Eventually she escaped by jumping from a window, despite by now being heavily pregnant. But she returned to the traffickers having nowhere else to go.

Wagle’s deception was caught in messages he sent by computer and mobile phone, calling himself AnilRaj1414. In one he wrote: “I have this girl in my house. Come if you like.” Another read: “I had a girl for you but now she is gone.”

Wagle sent pictures of girls to men he called Sabbaj and Bundus with the offer of allowing them to inspect the women at his flat with a view to buying them.

Other men were invited to a flat in Govanhill’s Garturk Street.

Gombar, Adam and Sandorova lived nearby in Allison Street, taking up two flats in one block and with connections to a further flat across the street, living with other family members including Sandorova’s mother, Sylvia Racova. These flats were their family home – but to the trafficked women held there they were prisons.

In one flat there were seven adults and several children all living side by side with women held against their will.

Adam, 31, would bring Asian men to the flat he shared with his wife and children, where the enslaved women would be forced to have sex for money kept by the traffickers. The couple and their children would be in the next room as these vulnerable and isolated women were being raped by strangers.

Sandorova, 28, would act as a heavy, beating a woman who failed to comply with the gang’s sick orders. But it was Gombar who would bring the women from Slovakia, acting as though they were nothing more than commodities to be bought and sold.Treating these young women as less than human, he worked with associates in Slovakia to compel them to travel with him.He would take their identification cards from them, leaving them without money or the necessary ID to return home.

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So far, 14 women have been identified as part of Operation Synapses but police believe there have been more.

At sales of between £3,000 and £10,000 – with cash also earned from brothel keeping – the gang is not, as one officer put it, “cash rich”. It is believed money made from trafficking and prostitution was being sent to family members back in Slovakia.

Certainly, the gang was not living in luxury in Glasgow: all members were residing in overcrowded rented properties in Govanhill though in clean and well-maintained buildings factored by Govanhill Housing Association, rather than in some of the more infamous “slum” properties.

During the trial, the four, who were bailed, carried on as if there was nothing amiss – socialising in the street, taking children on the school run. Lawyers close to the case said Gombar appeared to be a man confident in his own power to command and control women whom he dehumanised.

It is only now, after years of abusing women, that confidence has been shaken and he, and his vile gang, have been caught and found guilty.