Coast Guard interdicts 2 lancha crews illegally fishing US waters

A Mexican fishing boat, or lancha, floats alongside the pier at Coast Guard Station South Padre Island after a 45-foot Response Boat–Medium boat crew from the station detected men illegally fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, Sept. 21, 2021. The Coast Guard crew seized the boat, detained the Mexican fishermen and transferred them to border enforcement agents for processing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Station South Padre Island)

A Mexican fishing boat, or lancha, floats alongside the pier at Coast Guard Station South Padre Island after a 45-foot Response Boat–Medium boat crew from the station detected men illegally fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, Sept. 21, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Station South Padre Island)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Multiple Coast Guard law enforcement crews detected five and interdicted two Mexican lancha boat crews illegally fishing in federal waters off southern Texas, Tuesday.

A Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi aircrew in coordination with boat crews from Coast Guard Cutter Edgar Culbertson and Coast Guard Station South Padre Island located and stopped two lanchas with a total of seven Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing. Coast Guard personnel seized two lancha boats with high flyers, GPS devices, radios and fishing gear on board. Coast Guard crews detained the Mexican fishermen and transferred them to border enforcement agents for processing.

“Through our outstanding partnerships, we closely coordinate all lancha interdictions with partners from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, when inside Texas state waters,” said Capt. Hans Govertsen, commander of Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi. “Each case is unique and requires unity of effort to stop illegal fishing in U.S. waters, preventing the depletion of our valuable living marine resources and protecting the sovereignty of our national waters.

“At a tactical level, our collective efforts are taking a toll on the local resources of illegal fishermen. At the strategic level, the information that we collect supports decision-makers to take action.”

Since the beginning of the year, Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi crews have interdicted 45 lanchas, detained 183 fishermen and seized a total of 10,861 pounds of catch, north of the U.S.-Mexico Maritime Border.

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile, having one outboard motor, and is capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph. Lanchas are frequently used to transport illegal narcotics to the U.S. and illegally fish 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 (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “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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