Arrests made in people smuggling investigation off Devon coast

The 27-foot yacht ran aground off near Teignmouth. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling after a police operation off the coast of Devon.

Eight migrants have also been safely detained after the vessel they were on ran aground off Horse Cove in Teignmouth

Two men and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) supported by Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Devon and Cornwall Police and Immigration Enforcement.

The migrants – one woman and seven men aged between 20 and 40 years old – are still at a centre set up by Devon and Cornwall Police. Their nationalities are not yet confirmed.

Det Supt Tina Robinson, Head of SW ROCU, said: “People are just another money-making commodity to organised criminals, but operations like this show just how determined we are to work together and ensure such attempts to exploit migrants for profit whilst breaching our borders are not successful. 

“Our investigation is obviously in its early stages, but I’d like to thank Devon and Cornwall Police, Border Force, the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and the CPS for their support to date.”

Two of the passengers onboard were taken to Torbay Hospital as a precaution. All eight migrants have been found accommodation and given specific support.

Chief Superintendent Nikki Leaper, South Devon Commander for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in looking after the passengers as well as those who assisted with responding to the incident including our officers and staff, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Teignmouth Harbourmaster, and National Police Air Service.  

The 27-foot yacht was monitored on its way to the UK enabling Border Force officers to get into the right position at the right time to secure the arrests.

Two who were arrested remain in police custody and one man has been released under investigation.

Read more: