Lancha leads USCG on 20-minute pursuit - Brownsville Herald: Premium

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Lancha leads USCG on 20-minute pursuit

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Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 10:05 pm

Late last week, the captain of a vessel fishing illegally off South Padre Island led the United States Coast Guard on a hazardous 20-minute pursuit.

According to a criminal complaint, around 8 p.m. April 18, a Coast Guard aircraft spotted two boats fishing approximately 31.5 nautical miles off South Padre Island and 8.5 nautical miles north of the U.S.-Mexican maritime boundary.

The fishing vessel, or lancha, operated without navigation lights when a Coast Guard patrol boat responded and attempted to hail and board one of the boats, using lights, sirens, radio calls and loud hailers in Spanish and English that directed Captain Noel Sequera-Hernandez to stop the boat, court documents indicate.

Sequera-Hernandez is accused of refusing to comply with the Coast Guard’s orders, which is a federal crime.

According to the complaint, the captain maneuvered at a high rate of speed to avoid the patrol boat by driving the vessel in a multiple series of dangerous changes and corkscrew maneuvers, which means he navigated in continuous circles, to avoid apprehension.

However, Sequera-Hernandez relented and stopped the lancha 15 feet away from the Coast Guard patrol boat, about 18 nautical miles offshore of where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico and just 1.2 nautical miles north of the nautical boundary, according to court documents.

Sequera-Hernandez, who was born in 1973 and is not a U.S. citizen, appeared April 20 in magistrate court, where a judge appointed him an attorney and ordered a $25,000 cash bond, court records show.

The captain is scheduled for a preliminary examination April 30.

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