The three men were presented on 30 March to the Vila Real de Santo António court, which ordered their entry into those facilities of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), "while the process of expulsion from national territory is prepared", a source from the Faro District Command of the PSP told Lusa news agency.

The group was arrested on 29 March by the PSP in this city in the Faro district, after the Maritime Police found an abandoned pneumatic boat on the beach of Santo António, in the Algarve municipality, and gave the alert to the other authorities, said the captain of the port of Vila Real de Santo António, Rui Vasconcelos Duarte.

The detainees were transported around 3pm to the Vila Real de Santo António court, where they were interrogated for about two hours.

At 5.30pm, escorted by several police officers, the three men were taken to two police vans, which then left for Faro's CIT, Lusa reported on the scene.

The group that landed on the beach in Vila Real de Santo António may have 16 people, although only the three who were heard in court have been intercepted and already arrested by the authorities.

In statements to Lusa, subintendent Hugo Marado said there are indications that "it is a larger group", with the hypothesis that there are 16 people, allegedly from Morocco, which "does not mean that they have arrived in the same boat".

According to Hugo Marado, it was the three detainees who informed him that the group was made up of 16 people, which led police authorities to raise the state of alert, particularly in the Sotavento (eastern) Algarve.

If this is confirmed to be illegal immigration from North Africa, this was the seventh landing on the Algarve coast since the end of 2019.

The last had taken place on 15 September 2020, when authorities intercepted the group of migrants who illegally landed on Deserta Island in Faro and then fled.

Between December 2019 and September 2020, 97 migrants in six boats landed in the Algarve, all of them undocumented and allegedly coming from the same point, the town 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 in an uncertain place and most have been ordered to be expelled from the country, awaiting the implementation of the court decision in prisons and other places, where they are in the custody of the authorities.