FORT MYERS, FL (WFLA) – Three suspects lead US Coast Guard and Lee County deputies on a 20-hour high-speed boat chase, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. It started in Fort Myers and ended near Cancun, Mexico, involving US CG and county boats and aircraft. The suspects are now in jail on a $1.25 million bail each.
It all started Dec. 24 near Old Pelican Bay Drive in Fort Myers Beach. Lee County deputies were patrolling the area for boat theft prevention when they got information about a boat theft in progress at about 2 a.m. When they got to the scene, they realized that the three suspects had already broken through several anti-theft devices on a 36-foot 300-horse power Invincible boat. When the suspects saw the law enforcement they fled trying to ram an LCSO boat.
The Invincible headed towards the international waters. The sheriff’s vessel tried to follow it for about five miles but the Invincible outran it.
Deputies immediately contacted US Coast Guard and they launched a joint search and track operation that lasted about 20 hours and ran across 345 miles. Three Coast Guard aircraft, a small-boat crew from Station Fort Myers Beach and the Coast Guard Cutter William Trump were used to catch up with the Invincible.
About 125 miles east of Cancun, Mexico, the chase came to an end. According to USCG, the small boat crew from the William Trump apprehended the three men without incident.
“It was like something out of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie,” Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott told the Fort Myers News-Press Sunday.
The Associated Press reported that the suspects David Llanes Vasquez of Miami, Raul de la Vega-Sauri of Homestead and Vidal Ramirez-Farfan of Mexico were arrested late Thursday and are facing multiple charges of burglary and grand theft. Vasquez, 33, also faces additional counts of fleeing law enforcement and assault, among other charges. They are each held on at least $1.25 million bail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.