CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews interdicted a
record-breaking number of lanchas throughout the Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year
Since October 2018, Coast Guard assets and personnel have detected a total
of 175 lanchas, intercepted 138, and interdicted 74. Since the first recorded
lancha interdiction in the late 1980s, the Coast Guard has seen a significant
uptick in detection of the vessels, particularly in the past two years,
recording 61 lancha interdictions in the previous fiscal year.
The Coast Guard utilizes a layered approach for interdiction through
aircraft, small boats, and cutters, as well as improved technology on those
assets, resulting in the drastic increase in lancha interdictions.
"Working with our ReCoM partners, we will continue to apply maximum
pressure along the Maritime Boundary Line in order to deter this illicit activity,
preserve our natural resources and uphold U.S. sovereignty,” said Lt. Kurtis
Mees, Coast Guard Station South Padre Island commanding officer. “I couldn't be
more proud of my crew’s efforts and their steadfast dedication towards this
mission. This problem has persisted now in South Texas for 30 plus years and we
are committed to seeing an end to it."
A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately
20-30 feet long with a slender profile. They typically have one outboard motor
and are capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph. Lanchas pose a major
threat, usually entering the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the
U.S.-Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico with the intent to smuggle people,
drugs, or poach the United States natural resources.
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.