Border War: Don't Drift Over To The Mexico Side Of Lake, Texas Warns Fishermen

You're out for a peaceful day of fishing on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, and the next thing you know you're in the middle of an intense firefight, or you're being kidnapped, or turned into a junkie by ruthless drug overlords.

The only way to combat such things: Stay on the U.S. side of the lake. At least that's what the Department of Public Safety says.

DPS, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Zapata County Sheriff's Office issued a stern warning today to any boaters headed for Falcon Lake.

"Fishermen are advised to stay as far away as possible from any of the Argos-type fishing boats typically used as fishing vessels by Mexican fishermen," the warning said. "These boats have a large prow, a small outboard motor without a cowling and no identification numbers on the hull."

Three armed or robberies -- or attempted armed robberies -- have occurred this month on the lake, DPS said.

"Two of the three incidents involved United States citizens who had gone into the Mexican side of the lake, passing the International Waters markers," the agency said. "Most of the incidents occurred in the Old Guerrero area, but it's possible that other areas are a concern as well."

Slight problem: It's bass-fishing tournament time. Authorities will be meeting with tournament officials to give warnings and coordinate oversight.

But if the lure of a big, tournament-winning bass just over the border is too much?

Here's what you might be dealing with:

The robbers are believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization or members of an enforcer group linked to a drug trafficking organization who are heavily armed and using AK-47s or AR-15 rifles to threaten their victims. They appear to be using local Mexican fishermen to operate the boats to get close to American fishermen.

Here's the DPS description of one of the incidents:

On May 6, three fishermen were about a quarter of a mile from Marker 14 on the north side of Salado Island on top of the ruins. As they were fishing, a boat with two men quickly approached and pointed AR-15s at the fishermen. One of the men boarded the boat and searched it, looking for drugs, cash and guns. During the incident, he chambered a round in the rifle and told the fishermen that he would shoot them if they did not give him money. The fishermen took money out of their wallets and gave it to them.

If that doesn't sound serious enough, DPS urges boaters to leave "a detailed note with family members telling the time and place of departure (boat ramp), destination and direction of travel, boater cell phone number if available, names of passengers and what they're wearing, and a description of the boater's vehicle and boat, including boat and vehicle license numbers."

At least it doesn't say anything about a final will and testament. Yet.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly