A 46-year-old owner of fast-food shops in England’s Northumberland County has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for enslaving homeless drug users. Harjit Bariana was found guilty of forcing men addicted to alcohol and drugs to a life of bonded labor. According to police reports, Bariana extracted up to 13 hours of hard work from the men at his business outlets in Blyth in exchange for food, drink and shelter.
Besides, those individuals who stood their ground by refusing to give in to pressure were subjected to extreme violence and intimidation, the police said. The poor men were forced to live in pathetic conditions, and perform multiple tasks, including manual cleaning of sewage pipes. Law enforcement authorities uncovered the racket following a raid on one of Bariana’s properties that was associated with anti-social behavior and drug use.
“They found a number of men living in horrendous conditions who were initially too terrified to speak about their ordeal,” said a spokesman for the Northumbria Police. Bariana initially attempted to evade the charges by claiming that the men were his tenants. However, he was later charged with eight offences under the Modern Day Slavery Act.
According to authorities, Bariana has a history of indulging in criminal activities, including fraud and sales of counterfeit products. His victims feared loss of shelter if they didn’t give in to his unjustified demands. A chronic alcohol user who was out of prison was paid in alcohol and diazepam tablets for five months of intensive labor at one of Bariana’s takeaways.
Experts say use of addictive substances floods the brain with a dopamine rush, way beyond the normal level. Such a surge causes the user’s brain to associate the drug with a monumental neurochemical reward. Subsequently, the body grows accustomed to the artificially spiked levels of dopamine, creating an urge that only the drug can satisfy. Therefore, it is common for criminal-minded people to exploit the drug-seeking urges of unwary individuals.
Treatment is the key
People are not powerless in front of their addiction. If that were true, people would not be able to change frequently the form of their addiction. The same logic can be applied to quitting a particular addiction. Embracing sobriety demands a huge leap of faith, something that chronic alcohol or drug users are immensely hesitant to take.
Addiction to harmful drugs is a treatable disease. The safest and fruitful way to nip the menace in the bud is to seek professional treatment at the earliest. If a person is grappling with substance use disorder, he/she should seek help from a reputed drug addiction treatment center. One should be aware of the fact that substance use disorders can have severe consequences, if left untreated.
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