Coast Guard interdicts lancha crews illegally fishing US waters

A lancha moored to a pier in southern Texas after being seized by Coast Guard law enforcement crews May 30, 2018. Lanchas are frequently used to transport illegal narcotics to the U.S. and fish illegally in the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the U.S./Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A lancha moored to a pier in southern Texas after being seized by Coast Guard law enforcement crews May 30, 2018.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection National Air Security Operations Center – Corpus Christi law enforcement crews detected and interdicted three Mexican lancha boat crews engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters off southern Texas, Wednesday afternoon.

A NASOC-CC P3 Long Range Tracker aircraft crew spotted three suspicious vessels while patrolling the Texas coast. Coast Guard crews were called in and interdicted 13 Mexican fishermen aboard three lanchas engaged in illegal fishing. The three lancha boats and fishing gear were seized. The Mexican fishermen were detained and transferred to CBP officers for processing.

“I’m extremely proud of our crews today,” said Lt. Kurt Mees, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station South Padre Island. “Working with our Customs and Border Protection partners, we were able to successfully detect and interdict three Mexican lanchas illegally fishing in U.S. waters.”

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile, typically has 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 fish illegally in the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the U.S./Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi has detected 167 lanchas, 49 of which were interdicted, that were north of the U.S.-Mexico Maritime Border since Oct. 1, 2017.

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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