THE National Crime Agency is appealing for information from members of the public after eight men were arrested in Devon following a people smuggling attempt using a sailing yacht.
NCA investigators believe an organised crime group brought a number of migrants across the Channel from France on a 30ft yacht called Timberwolf.
The yacht was seen moored just off Mothecombe Beach on Tuesday (4 July). The migrants were transported to shore in a dinghy, and were picked up in a black Mercedes 180.
NCA officers would like to speak to anyone who was at the beach between the hours of 9am and 1pm on Tuesday and witnessed the incident. They are also seeking any images or footage taken on mobile phones.
Six men aged between 28 and 41 were arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police on suspicion of facilitation of illegal migration in the vehicle that was seen leaving the beach area.
The yacht was then stopped by Border Force officers as it was sailing on to Plymouth.
A 24-year-old man from Putney and the boat’s captain, a 58-year-old man from Devon, were also arrested on suspicion of facilitation of illegal migration. The men have all been questioned by NCA officers and released on bail.
NCA Branch Commander Matt Rivers said: 'Tackling people smuggling is a priority for the National Crime Agency. An organised crime group will have been behind this smuggling attempt. Criminals do not care about those they transport – they will be exploiting them for profit.
'Our investigation into this group continues, but we would also like to hear from any witnesses who were at the beach at the time of this incident.'
Anyone with information or images should email [email protected] or call 0370 496 7622 quoting ‘1418791’.