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Sergejs Kuliss, of Tonbridge, charged over people smuggling plot after fishing boat intercepted between Ostend, Belgium, and Harwich

A Kent man is accused of masterminding a plot to smuggle 69 Albanians into the UK aboard a fishing boat.

Sergejs Kuliss, 39, of Hartlake Road, Tonbridge, was arrested alongside alleged accomplices 34-year-old Lithuanian Arturas Jusas, of Lambeth, and Israeli Kfir Ivgi, 32, of Finchley, during a series of raids yesterday.

The Svanic Picture: NCA
The Svanic Picture: NCA

All three have now been charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration and will appear at Southend Magistrates' Court later today.

The operation follows the interception of the Svanic off the coast of East Anglia on November 17, as part of a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force.

The boat had sailed from the Ostend area of Belgium.

It was escorted into Harwich where the three crew, a Latvian national and two Ukrainian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. They were subsequently charged.

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