An all-day Christmas Eve boat pursuit came to an end after three suspected boat thieves led authorities on a more than 345-mile chase, from Florida to waters near Cancun, Mexico, the Coast Guard said.
A boat theft was reported early Thursday in the area of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, said the Coast Guard, who "immediately launched surface and airborne assets" to assist the Lee County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office with the chase.
The chase came to an end Thursday night, the Coast Guard said this weekend, when the boat stopped about 125 miles east of Cancun, Mexico, and a small Coast Guard crew apprehended the three suspects without incident. The pursuit in open water spanned more than 345 miles, the Coast Guard said.
The suspects, identified by the Lee County Sheriff's Office as David Llanes Vasquez, Raul De La Vega Sauri and Vidal Benhur Ramirez-Farfan, were transferred to Fort Myers, Florida, the Coast Guard said, where they were arrested on several charges in connection with the theft.
Ramirez and De La Vega Sauri were charged with burglary and grand theft, the sheriff's office said, while Vasquez was arrested for burglary and grand theft as well as additional charges including "Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon without Intent to Kill on a Law Enforcement Officer" and "Fleeing or Attempting to elude a Law enforcement Officer."
According to the sheriffs office "it was determined that Vasquez 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 today set bonds totaling about $1.25 million to $1.5 million for the suspects, the Naples Daily News reported. All three suspects requested a public defender, according to the Naples Daily News.