20 Poachers Busted for 2,640 Pounds of Illegally Caught Snapper in Texas

The Coast Guard and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) interdicted five lancha crews and seized approximately 2,640 pounds of illegally caught red snapper in waters subject to U.S. law enforcement off southern Texas, Saturday.

Boat crews from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island and Coast Guard Cutter Jacob Poroo, in coordination with Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi aircrews, located and stopped a total of 16 Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing aboard four lanchas north of the Maritime Boundary Line.

After interdicting the lanchas, Coast Guard personnel seized 2,090 pounds of red snapper in addition to fishing gear and high flyers on board the vessels. Coast Guard crews detained the Mexican fishermen, brought them ashore, and transferred the detainees to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for further processing.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing depletes our precious natural resources, disrupts our economy and threatens the marine environment,” said Coast Guard Capt. Hans Govertsen, commanding officer, Air Station Corpus Christi. “We are blessed to work alongside our local, state, federal, and international partners and are fiercely committed to stopping these illegal operations.”

Additionally, an Air Station Corpus Christi crew alerted a TPWD boat crew to the presence of another lancha crew engaged in illegal fishing north of the Maritime Boundary Line. The TPWD crew interdicted the lancha with four Mexican fishermen aboard and seized 550 pounds of illegally caught red snapper.

“This case is another example of Texas Game Wardens working with partners to protect and conserve Texas’ natural resources,” said Colonel Chad Jones, Director of TPWD Law Enforcement. “We truly appreciate our partnership with the Coast Guard as we patrol the coastal waterways.”

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile, having 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 illegally fish 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 “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.