Coast Guard interdicts 2 lancha crews illegally fishing US waters

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island surveys a Mexican lancha after stopping four Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing aboard the vessel off the southern Texas coast, Feb. 4, 2022. The Coast Guard crew seized the high flyers, bait, hooks and long line gear on board the lancha and transferred the fishermen to border enforcement agents for processing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Station South Padre Island)

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island surveys a Mexican lancha after stopping four Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing aboard the vessel off the southern Texas coast, Feb. 4, 2022.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Station South Padre Island)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews interdicted two Mexican lancha boat crews engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters off southern Texas, Wednesday.

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station South Padre island assisted Texas Game Wardens’ Marine Tactical Operations Group in seizing the gear and catch from a lancha after the crew discovered three fishermen illegally fishing north of the Maritime Boundary Line. The Coast Guard crew seized 500 to 600 pounds of red snapper and 5,000 feet of long line gear, then detained and transferred the men to border enforcement agents for processing.

Later that evening, another Station South Padre island crew detected and interdicted a lancha with four Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing. Although there was no catch on board, the lancha was equipped with high flyers, bait, hooks and long line gear. The Coast Guard crew seized the gear and transferred the fishermen to border enforcement agents for processing.

“Stopping illegal fishing activities and the depletion of our natural resources truly is a joint effort,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Ippolito, commanding officer of Station South Padre Island. “We routinely work with Texas Game Wardens, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other partner agencies to coordinate our response and attack this problem from multiple angles.”

“Tracking, apprehending and preventing illegal fishing activities in the Gulf Coast is a constant battle,” said Texas Game Warden Captain Wesley Groth, supervising officer of the MTOG Special Ops Team. “Building and maintaining relationships with our federal partners ensures a higher success rate as well as the preservation of our natural resources for generations to come.”

A lancha is a Mexican fishing boat approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile. Typically the lancha has one outboard motor, is capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph and is frequently used to fish and transport narcotics illegally in the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the U.S./Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing in state waters (from land to 9 miles offshore), please contact “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious activity or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-0450.

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