Three convicted of trying to smuggle 19 migrants into Southwold
- Credit: Archant
Three people have been convicted of trying to smuggle 19 migrants into the UK through Southwold on a hired yacht from the Netherlands.
A National Crime Agency investigation began after the boat - Flamingo - arrived into Southwold harbour on October 1 last year, having sailed across the North Sea.
Shortly after the boat landed officers from the NCA and the Border Force coastal patrol vessel ‘Alert’ moved in and Yevhenii Vasylkov, 30, and Yupi Karakin, 27, were arrested, alongside a number of migrants who were still on the vessel.
Ten migrants had already been transferred into two vehicles for onward transportation. Those vehicles were stopped by Suffolk Police officers as they drove towards Ipswich and drivers Yuril Dzhuraniuk, 26 and Mykhailo Riok, 27, were arrested.
All 19 migrants were passed to Immigration Enforcement.
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The four all initially denied facilitating illegal migration, but on day three of their trial at Blackfriars Crown Court Vasylkov changed his plea to guilty.
The trial continued, and on Monday, April 16, Dzhuraniuk and Riok were found guilty. They will be sentenced on May 10. Karakin was found not guilty, but as he entered the UK illegally he now faces being removed back to Ukraine.
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NCA branch operations manager Tony Luhman said: “This case demonstrates how criminal networks involved in organised immigration crime are prepared to risk the lives of the people they smuggle for the sake of profit.
“The vessel they travelled in from the Netherlands was not equipped to make such a journey, and had it run into trouble the consequences could have been fatal.
“But this crime group didn’t care about that, they just wanted to make money out of the desperation of others to reach the UK.
“There were clearly others involved in this and other similar smuggling attempts, in that respect our investigation continues.”
This investigation forms part of Project Invigor, the UK’s Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce that targets the criminal networks behind people smuggling. It is led by the NCA and includes partners such as Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the Crown Prosecution Service, working in the UK and internationally.