The Coast Guard seized a Mexican-flagged vessel, known as a lancha, that was illegally fishing in U.S. waters four miles offshore of Brownsville, Texas, Thursday.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., crewmembers aboard a Coast Guard Station South Padre Island 33-foot Special Purpose Craft — Law Enforcement boat, spotted the vessel illegally fishing about one mile north of the U.S. and Mexico maritime border.
As the SPC—LE crew approached the vessel, the fishing vessel's crew energized its engines and began to evade the crew. Despite repeated warnings from the SPC—LE crew to stop, the fishing vessel continued to flee and rammed the Coast Guard vessel in an attempt to escape.
The SPC—LE crew were able to stop the vessel by severing its fuel line. There were no injuries to the fisherman or Coast Guard crew during the pursuit. Upon boarding the vessel, the crew of the SPC—LE found multiple shark, red drum and stingray onboard. .
The catch and vessel were turned over to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife for the fisheries violations. Coast Guard Investigative Service agents arrested the Mexican operator of the vessel for a violation of federal criminal law for refusing to follow the SPC—LE crew's orders to stop.
The case is currently under investigation by CGIS and the U.S. Attorney's office for Southern District of Texas. The evidence package for the seizure has been forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service, who will determine if a formal notice of violation will be issued. ###