Falkirk man is part of Latvian gang found guilty of organised crime

editorial image

A Latvian man who now lives in Falkirk has been found guilty of people smuggling, money laundering and fraud.

On the 14th week of a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the four men – all from Latvia – were have been found guilty of being connected to serious organised crime in Scotland, England and their homeland.

Maris Kursis (30) from FAlkirk, along with Hardijs Langsteins (37) from Salford, near Manchester; Arvids Civkors (30) from Edinburgh and Aivars Dzagarjans (38) from Forth, Northumberland; all pled not guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August to the offences, which were alleged to have taken place between June 20, 2012, and December 2, 2016.

The Crown case was that the men encouraged people from Latvia to come to the United Kingdom, offering to provide their travel, accommodation and employment.

Once the people arrived in the UK, they were told they were “in debt” to the gang. The victims were forced to open bank accounts in their own names, hand over their bank accounts and bank cards and were sent to work in various locations throughout the UK.

The gang retained control over their earnings. Refusal to co-operate met with threats of violence and assaults.

On the fourth day of their deliberation, the jury of nine women and six men yesterday found all the accused guilty by a majority.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC told the men that each of them had been convicted of very serious offences involving organised crime and he was not persuaded to grant bail.

All four were remanded in custody for reports to be prepared.

Sheriff Welsh thanked the jury for the time they had taken to attend the proceedings.

He said it had been an unusual case, lasting for a long time, adding they had “played a very important part in public service”.