Chapter Four – The Dust Settles (Catching a Criminal Series Two)


Following on from their arrest during a nighttime warrant, key suspects Ainars Pelcis and Magdalena Kleina were
remanded in prison custody. The investigation team’s focus now fell on tracing Karens Pelcis and Madara Stromane. Unfortunately, some of the key players within the
operation weren’t in the UK and weren’t at those addresses when we conducted the
enforcement. We knew that they weren’t going to be there when that happened, we knew before we went into those addresses that they were out of the country. But they’re key to
the operation and unless we pursue them chase them down arrest them and hold
them accountable, it could just displace this criminality. They could move to
another country. They’ll be living off the proceeds of what they’ve gathered from this
criminality so far. It’s really difficult to take that we haven’t got those in
custody at the moment along with the others that we have got in custody, and
there’s no way that we’ll be letting these off scot-free. I’ll be doing
everything in my power as will the investigation team to bring these two
and some of the others to justice. Meanwhile, Derbyshire’s Uniform Task Force – specially trained in searching for evidence – combed the gang’s properties for more clues to their offending. They unearthed a paper trail treasure trove that proved how the gang operated and how far the exploitation went. Just sorting some documentation. There are some bank receipts for cheques, a list of names… Some miscellaneous paperwork on this stand here. This is cupboard area two, and we’ve
located some paperwork inside this red handbag, there’s some more paper there
and this folder here contained I think some passport numbers, this was on the shelf
here. Just a quick film around this cupboard. It’s the 12th of September 2017. Camera’s going off. Thanks to the bank statements and other financial documents the task force recovered the investigation team were able to track
down CCTV footage of the people withdrawing large sums of money from the
victims. accounts. Unsurprisingly, the people taking all the money out were not the victims, but the exploiters. And the paper trail didn’t end in Derby. Countless other withdrawals and transactions were found all the way back in Latvia. Yeah we’re just looking at two offenders, two of the main offenders, using a victim’s bank card that is currently in the UK. Or was in the UK while that card was being used. It’s clearly Madara Stromane and Karens Pelcis wearing some very poor disguises, sunglasses and a baseball cap. They’re looking at their mobile phone, possibly to get the card details while they’re using it, possibly looking for a PIN number that might be stored on the mobile phone. That’s a possibility. It seems to be a common theme from the CCTV that they look at their moble phone while they’re using the bank cards. Quite often the wages were put into the
bank accounts at 8 o’clock in the morning on a Friday and what we actually saw was
suspects queuing up with bank cards and they would wait for the money to drop in
so on some occasions we actually saw transactions or failed transactions on
victims’ bank accounts where they were literally waiting and checking to see if
the money had dropped in. As soon as that money drops into the account they would
take all the money out. Detectives discovered that the money was used to
pay for day-to-day expenses, luxury goods, flights and even high-end vehicles that
had once been on the streets of Derby but were now overseas, back in Latvia. In
one clip, recovered from a petrol station in rural Latvia, suspect Madara was
captured using a victim’s bank card to pay for a full tank of fuel in a £36,000 Hummer SUV. It was this type of evidence that led the team to
believe that there was much more hidden overseas and that in order to
dismantle the gang once and for all they would need to follow the trail to Latvia. It then brings and opens up that sitting down and reality of ‘right, what have we actually got?’ So this is when you start to look at that evidential gap, where that evidence potentially lies and the majority of the evidence that
we wanted was out in Latvia. So that brings other challenges as well. I
thought it would be quite simple. We would get a European arrest warrant, we
would put that on PNC, put them on our computer systems and everything
else, and naturally that would take its normal course, which runs throughout
normal policing anyway. And I thought if you had those existing processes in
place, why not use them to capture them? But the reality of it is and some of the
discussions and that evidential gaps that we’d got, it was quite obvious that
we needed to do a lot of work around the Latvian side of the business. And I think
it’s quickly become apparent that if we don’t do anything a little bit different
and we don’t think a bit different then potentially those suspects would probably
never come forward. When we were investigating this we wanted to get
everybody responsible and from the information we had it was clear that
Karens and Madara, who we didn’t get on that initial enforcement were a massive part of this organised crime group and this conspiracy to exploit really vulnerable people. So we didn’t give up. We explored
every avenue we could to try and get hold of them and we ultimately knew that
they weren’t going to return to the UK of their own accord and we had to bring
them back.

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