Coast Guard stops lancha crew illegally fishing in US waters

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews detected and interdicted a Mexican lancha boat crew engaged in illegally fishing in federal waters off southern Texas, Sunday morning.

Coast Guard crews stopped a lancha with four Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing. The lancha had 15 Snapper and 59 shark totaling 643 pounds aboard the vessel. The Mexican fishermen were detained and transferred to border enforcement agents for processing.

“The illegal fishing of red snapper causes over 11 million dollars in lost revenue each year to U.S commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Cmdr. Charles Hawkins, the chief of response at Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi. “Deterring this and other illicit activity on the U.S./Mexico maritime boundary line is one of our top priorities.”

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 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 166 lanchas, 54 of which were interdicted 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 361-939-6393.