Coast Guard interdicts 3 lanchas illegally fishing US waters

A boat crew from Coast Guard Cutter Harold Miller, a 154-foot Sentinel class cutter homeported in Galveston, Texas, seizes approximately 150 to 200 pounds of red snapper on board a Mexican lancha off the southern Texas coast, Oct. 19, 2021. The boat crew located and stopped four Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing, seized the catch and gear, then transferred the fishermen to border enforcement agents for processing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Cutter Harold Miller)

A boat crew from Coast Guard Cutter Harold Miller, a 154-foot Sentinel class cutter homeported in Galveston, Texas, seizes approximately 150 to 200 pounds of red snapper on board a Mexican lancha off the southern Texas coast, Oct. 19, 2021.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo, courtesy Cutter Harold Miller)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews detected and interdicted three Mexican lancha boat crews engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters off southern Texas, from Oct. 18 to 21.

Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi aircrews in coordination with crews from Coast Guard Cutter Harold Miller (WPC-1138) and Coast Guard Station South Padre Island located and stopped three lanchas with a combined 13 Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing.

A boat crew from Station South Padre Island interdicted a lancha with 1,000 pounds of red snapper on board, Thursday. The station crew seized the catch and gear, then detained and transferred the five fishermen to border enforcement agents for processing.

For his actions during the pursuit, the operator, a Mexican national, may be charged with Title 18 USC 2237, Failure to Heave To or Obstruction of Boarding, which carries a charge of fines and imprisonment of up to 15 years.

“The women and men of the Coast Guard stand ready to protect the sovereignty of U.S. territorial seas,” said Coast Guard Capt. Hans Govertsen, commander, Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi. “We are committed to protecting U.S. waters against all enemies and appreciate the assistance provided by all local partners, those who are paid professionals and those who freely volunteer their talents and abilities to protect our waters.”

Earlier in the week, a boat crew from Cutter Harold Miller stopped one lancha with no catch but high flyers, bait, hooks and long line gear on board. Additionally, after receiving notification from a nearby good Samaritan, the cutter’s crew was able to locate and stop a second lancha with approximately 150 to 200 pounds of red snapper on board. The Coast Guard crew seized the catch and gear, then transferred the fishermen to border enforcement agents for processing

“This week we received some valuable assistance from good Samaritans who recognized that the natural resources from our territorial seas were being stolen by Mexican fishermen,” Govertsen said. “They reported the fishermen and stopped them from harvesting fish from our waters.”

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 the Texas Parks & 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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