CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews rescued four mariners from their disabled lancha illegally fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 6, 2020.
While on a routine patrol a Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew located a lancha with four mariners aboard signaling distress. Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi watchstanders diverted the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Decisive and launched a Station South Padre Island 33-foot Special Purpose-Law Enforcement boat crew to assist.
Once on scene, it was determined that due to an engine malfunction, the mariners had been stranded in their lancha for three days without food or water. Watchstanders were able to correlate their description matched that of a reported overdue fishermen case from the Secretaría de Marina. The crew of the Decisive provided food, water, blankets and life jackets to the mariners after transferring them from the vessel.
The crew of the SPC-LE transported the mariners to Station South Padre Island where they were transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. There were no reported injuries.
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 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.