Coast Guard chase in boat theft case leads to three arrests

December 29, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

A Coast Guard boat chase a la James Bond concluded with the arrest of three men, who thought they could get away by ramming their stolen craft into a Sheriff’s Office vessel. In a press conference held by Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard, it was revealed that the chase lasted an entire day and spun over 345 miles from Florida to Mexico.

Coast Guard chase

It was a Christmas Eve to be remembered for the men and women working in the Coast Guard along the Florida shores thanks to a lengthy chase that took them all the way to Mexico to catch the bad guys. On Thursday, Florida authorities received a call reporting a stolen boat in Fort Myers Beach. According to Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Office, an immediate sea and air search was launched to find the vessel.

The police rapidly spotted the 36-foot Invincible boat, but they were no match for its 300-hp engines that are capable of speeds up to 75 miles per hour and the ruthless criminals, who were willing to smash their vessel into the Sheriff’s Office boat. A wild chase began around 2 a.m. near Old Pelican Bay Drive in Fort Myers Beach and lasted the whole day and night with the three suspects being apprehended near Cancun, Mexico on Christmas Day. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said the entire operation needed three Coast Guard aircraft, a small-boat crew from Station Fort Myers Beach, and the Coast Guard Cutter William Trump and it spun on over 345 miles. Scott added:

“It was like something out of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie.”

According to Scott, the trio composed of two Floridians and one Mexican were arrested and hit with multiple charges including burglary and larceny. David Llanes Vasquez, 33, of Miami, 23-year-old Vidal Farfan-Ramirez, of Mexico, and Raul De La Vega Sauri, 25, of Homestead, Florida, are now behind bars.

Vasquez was additionally charged with reckless pollution and assault with intent to commit a felony because “it was determined that he was the boat operator and De La Vega Sauri who was seated next to him behind the control console, was providing direction. Ramirez was involved in the theft but was not in control of the vessel.”

A Lee County judge threw the book at the criminals by setting their bonds at about $1.25 million to $1.5 million. The Coast Guard also issued a statement on the James Bond-inspired chase:

“A small boat crew from the William Trump apprehended the three suspects without incident,” “The three suspects were later transferred aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Marlin for transit back to authorities in Fort Myers.”

The stolen powerboat will be returned to Florida in the upcoming days. Some are wondering, why did the police and Coast Guard go on a wild goose chase and put men and women in harm’s way when they could have shot at the boat? In clear, destroy its motors and arrest the criminals in Florida waters.

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