SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Law enforcement crews from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island intercepted two Mexican lanchas fishing illegally in U.S. waters, Feb. 15.
At approximately noon, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol aircraft spotted the lanchas retrieving long line gear 15 miles north of the U.S. and Mexico maritime border inside the Exclusive Economic Zone, where only American fisherman can legally fish.
A law enforcement boatcrew from Station South Padre was dispatched to investigate the report. Once on scene the Coast Guard crew spotted a lancha near the reported position preparing to deploy fishing gear.
The law enforcement boatcrew briefly gave chase to the lancha, which fled upon being spotted, before the operator complied with orders to stop.
A short time later, the CBP aircraft spotted another lancha collecting long line gear north of the U.S. border several miles from the first lancha.
Another law enforcement boatcrew from Station South Padre Island was launched and stopped the second lancha without incident.
In addition to gear, the second lancha had approximately 300 pounds of red snapper, several sharks, and other miscellaneous fish on board.
Both lanchas and roughly 25,000 feet of long line gear were seized. The six crewmembers from both fishing boats were turned over to CBP for release to Mexican law enforcement officials.
"Coast Guard Station South Padre Island routinely interdicts Mexican lanchas fishing illegally in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, with more than 30 such seizures this fiscal year alone," said Lt. Joshua Sagers, the commanding officer of Station South Padre Island.
Protection and management of vital living marine resources in U.S. waters is a primary mission of the United States Coast Guard, in addition to search and rescue and homeland security.