SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The U.S. Coast Guard recently encountered two Mexican fishing crews illegally harvesting shark and red snapper in U.S. waters.

With the two interdictions Dec. 9, the Coast Guard seized two boats referred to as “lanchas” and 600 pounds of illegally caught fish in federal waters off the Texas coast.

A Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi aircrew spotted the lanchas approximately 8 miles north of the Maritime Boundary Line. Two Coast Guard boat crews were sent from the South Padre Island station to intercept the lanchas.

“The boat crews arrived on scene and subsequently seized two lanchas with high flyers, GPS devices, radios, fishing gear, two sharks and a combined 600 pounds of red snapper on board,” Coast Guard officials stated. “The Coast Guard crews detained the Mexican fishermen and transferred them to border enforcement agents for processing.”

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20 to 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, according to federal authorities.

“Illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing is a multi-faceted problem that affects human rights, food security and maritime security,” said Lt. j.g. David Guerreiro, operational unit controller, Sector Corpus Christi. “We will continue to coordinate our efforts with state and federal agencies to put a stop to illegal poaching and preserve our natural resources for future generations to enjoy.”

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing out to 200 miles offshore, please call the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-0450.