18 May 2018
Three Ukrainian nationals who were convicted of attempting to smuggle 19 migrants into Suffolk on a hired yacht have been jailed.
The trio were arrested after the boat – Flamingo - arrived into Southwold harbour on 15 October 2017, having sailed across the North Sea from the Netherlands.
Shortly after the boat landed, National Crime Agency officers 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, Mykhailo Riok, 27, were arrested.
All 19 migrants were passed to Immigration Enforcement.
Vasylkov pleaded guilty to facilitation charges, and on Monday 16 April Dzhuraniuk and Riok were found guilty following a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court. Karakin was found not guilty.
On Friday 18 May Vasylkov was sentenced to three years and three months; Riok and Dzhuraniuk were both sentenced to two years.
They will also face deportation at the end of their sentence.
NCA branch operations manager Tony Luhman said:
“This crime group used a vessel that was ill-equipped to make a long sea journey carrying this many people.
“It demonstrates how criminals involved in organised immigration crime are prepared to risk the lives of people for profit. They preyed on the desperation of others to reach the UK.
“Our investigation into the wider criminal network involved here continues. Working with law enforcement partners we will continue to target the networks involved in people smuggling and use all the powers at our disposal to disrupt their activity.”
Rod Lowson, from Border Force Maritime Command, said:
“The case is an excellent example of Border Force’s Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPVs) doing exactly what they were designed to do – protect the UK’s coastline and intervene swiftly to intercept criminals.
“CPVs are one part of our maritime operation and work alongside the larger cutters to patrol the UK coastline and visit smaller unmanned ports and beaches. We will continue to work closely with partners like the National Crime Agency to keep our borders secure.”
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.