At the time of going to press, the PSP had detained three people in the incident. Hugo Marado from the PSP said that there were indications that the detainees were part of “a larger group”, with officials suspecting a total of 16 people, allegedly from Morocco, although the authorities highlighted that this “does not mean that they all arrived on the same vessel”.
According to Hugo Marado, it was the three detainees who reported that the group was composed of 16 people, which led the police authorities to raise their alertness, especially in the eastern Algarve.
"Within our patrol we are being especially attentive, but we have no idea of the locations where they can be found," he acknowledged, adding that the case had been reported to the Castro Marim Police and Customs Cooperation Centre.
On 29 March, the authorities detained three people in Vila Real de Santo António, in the district of Faro, who had allegedly landed illegally on a beach in the municipality, after the local Maritime Police detected an abandoned vessel on the beach of Santo António.
The small vessel, detected early in the morning, contained cans for fuel and evidence of food, which led the Maritime Police to report the situation to GNR, PSP and the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).
According to Hugo Marado, in the middle of the morning, a patrol of the PSP in Vila Real de Santo António spotted three men in the city "with an air of fatigue, disorientation and with wet clothes", with only one of them having documents, but not authorisation to enter Portugal. The three were later detained for illegal entry and permanence in national territory.
“We believe that they came on a larger vessel and were then placed on a smaller vessel. It does not seem to us that a vessel like that is capable of making the entire journey”, said the authorities.
If confirmed to be illegal immigration from North Africa, this was the seventh landing on the Algarve coast since the end of 2019.
Between December 2019 and December 2020, 97 migrants landed in the Algarve on six vessels, all of them undocumented and allegedly from the same location, the city of El Jadida, in Morocco, located on the country's Atlantic coast, 700 kilometres from the Algarve.
Some of these migrants tried to apply for asylum, but were denied, some are still being processed, and most were ordered to be expelled from the country.