SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) - On a crisp winter morning in the Gulf of Mexico, a 33-foot U.S. Coast Guard special-purpose craft bounced across white-tipped swells in pursuit of a rickety boat that was fishing illegally in U.S. waters.

 

After a short chase, news from a forward patrol unit crackled on the radio: The boat and three Mexican fishermen aboard had been apprehended.

 

“This is a typical day,” Coast Guard Lt. Mike Bell told the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1v5jTbI ). “But sometimes they do try to outrun us back to Mexican waters.”

 

For years, state and federal agencies patrolling the Gulf have engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with Mexican fishermen, seizing dozens of boats and thousands of tons of illegally caught fish, and removing miles of netting.

 

Despite efforts to thwart incursions by these small fishing boats, commonly referred to as lanchas, encounters are on the rise.

 

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