Coast Guard intercepts Mexican lancha poaching in South Texas waters

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Coast Guard intercepted a Mexican fishing crew poaching in South Texas Wednesday with 197 red snapper.

An HC-144 airplane crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama, was on a routine patrol and sighted two Mexican fishing boats, also known as lanchas, 42 miles offshore and 8 miles north of the United States/Mexico maritime border at 4:59 p.m. The aircrew notified Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders, who then diverted a Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boatcrew aboard a 33-foot law enforcement boat. The aircrew vectored in the boatcrew, who stopped one lancha with four people aboard, while the second lancha proceeded south of the maritime border.

The lancha had fishing gear aboard without a legal permit and 197 red snapper totaling 590 pounds, which had been caught in U.S. waters. The lancha was towed back to Station South Padre Island and the four crewmembers were turned over to Customs and Border Protection.

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard has detected 41 lanchas, all of which were suspected of poaching in U.S. waters, and interdicted five of them.

“We have a close partnership with Texas Parks & Wildlife to combat illegal fishing along the United States/Mexico maritime border. Our coordinated law enforcement efforts to stop illegal fishing include retrieving illegally set fishing gear and pursuing the fishing vessels conducting illicit activity,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Allen, chief of law enforcement for Sector Corpus Christi.

If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-6393.

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