Three men have been charged with people smuggling offenses after a fishing boat was intercepted off the eastern coast of the U.K.
As part of an intelligence-led operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), Immigration Enforcement and Border Force, the vessel was located on the evening of November 17.
The three crew members, Igor Kosyi, 56, and Volodymyr Mykhailov, 48, both from Ukraine, and Aleksandrs Gulpe, 43, from Latvia, appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court on November 19 and have been remanded in custody.
The boat had sailed from the Ostend area of Belgium and was accompanied into Harwich harbor by Border Force cutters Searcher and Vigilant in the early hours of November 18, where the three crew members were arrested.
The other 69 people on board, all Albanian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of offenses under the Immigration Act and are now being dealt with by Immigration Enforcement officers.
The operation at Harwich was assisted by Essex Police.
NCA Deputy Director of Investigations Chris Farrimond said: “This was clearly a significant incident and a bold attempt to breach the U.K.’s border controls by organized criminals.
“Our investigation into this attempt continues, and I’d like to thank Essex Police, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement for all they did and their ongoing support. Working with our partners we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks, and prevent them from exploiting migrants for profit. Our aim is to target those who cause harm, safeguard those who are most vulnerable while securing the U.K.’s borders.”