Coast Guard seizes Mexican boat suspected of poaching in U.S.waters

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard Cutter Venturous crews spotted and intercepted a Mexican boat suspected of poaching fish from U.S. waters off South Texas, Thursday.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., crews on the Cutter Venturous spotted four lanchas approximately 11 miles north of the U.S. and Mexico maritime border and 31 miles offshore inside the Exclusive Economic Zone. A law enforcement boat crew was dispatched from the cutter to investigate.

Once the small boat was launched from the cutter, the four lanchas fled south towards Mexican waters. The boatcrew initiated hot pursuit and stopped one of the lanchas 7 miles south of the border. The lancha was filled with fishing gear, bait and ice to preserve fish catch and there were four Mexican nationals aboard. The other three lanchas escaped.

The four Mexican nationals aboard the lancha were brought back to Coast Guard Station South Padre Island along with their boat and were turned over to Customs and Border Protection. No catch was found aboard the lancha.

“Pursuing a fleet of fast-moving vessels at night is extremely dangerous for all involved,” said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, the response officer at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “Yet, it is clear these Mexican fleets are determined to steal red snapper from U.S. waters, no matter the risk. The Coast Guard is equally determined to safely stop these incursions and persistently protect these diminished resources against poaching and overfishing.”

If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife Department “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 United States Coast Guard at 361-939-6393.

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