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Coast Guard Interdicts 5 Boats with 6,000 Pounds of Illegal Fish

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Coast Guard law enforcement crews count the catch of five Mexican lancha boat crews illegally fishing in federal waters off southern Texas at Station South Padre Island in South Padre Island, Texas, Nov. 16, 2019. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi

Coast Guard law enforcement crews detected and interdicted five Mexican lancha boat crews engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters off the coast of southern Texas, Saturday.

Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi aircrews, Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boatcrews, Coast Guard Cutter Jacob Poroo, along with Customs and Border Protection Agency Air and Marine Operations and Homeland Security Investigations personnel interdicted five lanchas with a total of 22 Mexican fishermen engaged in illegal fishing. Five lancha boats, with fishing gear onboard, along with an estimated 6,186 pounds of illegal catch were seized. The Mexican fishermen were detained and transferred to border enforcement agents for processing.

"We protect our at-risk fish populations every day of the year to ensure they are sustainable," said Lt. Karl Alejandre, a pilot at Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi. "Illegal fishing was stopped today as a direct result of the dedication and teamwork of Coast Guard surface, air, and shore personnel, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection."

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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 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.

Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi has intercepted 22 lanchas and interdicted 15 lanchas north of the U.S./Mexico Maritime Border since Oct. 1, 2019.

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.