Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A British man has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for forcing two Polish men into slavery.
Edward Zielinski pleaded guilty this week to charges of human trafficking after one of his victims escaped. Officials said Zielinksi used violence and intimidation to control his victims and forced one of the men to make greeting cards for 20 hours a day.
Judge Gregory Dickinson said Zielinski, 42, treated the victims in a "thoroughly degrading way."
"You took away their dignity as human beings, you fully exploited their vulnerability, you were able to brow beat and control them through threats and intimidation," Dickinson said.
The enslaved greeting card-maker was under Zielinski's control between May 31, 2013, and June of this year. He became involved after falling into debt with Zielinski's cousin for about $1,000, and was forced to work it off by making greeting cards -- and was paid with alcohol and cigarettes.
Officials said the man was able to escape twice, but Zielinski tracked him down each time. Eventually, he was able to get away and tell authorities.
When police searched Zielinski's home, they said they found another Polish man locked in the apartment.
"They were incredibly vulnerable people -- unemployed, alcohol dependent, and couldn't speak a word of English -- so they were seen as perfect victims," said Detective Sergeant Mike Ebbins.