345-Mile Boat Chase 'Out of a Mission Impossible Movie'
Coast Guard pursues alleged boat thieves across Gulf of Mexico
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2015 4:10 PM CST
The stolen boat, pursued by the US Coast Guard.   (US Coast Guard)

(Newser) – Some Christmas Eve: Members of the US Coast Guard spent it in high-speed pursuit of three suspected boat thieves across the Gulf of Mexico, NBC News reports. The chase began when a sheriff's marine unit in Fort Myers, Fla., responded to a tip about a 36-foot powerboat being stolen. Incredibly, the 300-horsepower boat rammed them at full throttle, bouncing off the hull and damaging the vessel: "It was like something out of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie," Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott tells the News-Press. The stolen boat, capable of hitting 75mph, outran the marine unit into the Gulf but was soon tracked by three Coast Guard aircraft and two boats.

The pursuit lasted nearly 20 hours as the boat made evasive maneuvers and stopped several times to refuel (the thieves apparently brought their own gas). It came to an end about 125 miles east of Cancun, Mexico, and 65 miles west of Cuba, where the Coast Guard arrested David Llanes Vasquez, 33, of Miami, Raul De La Vega Sauri, 25, of Homestead, and Vidal Farfan-Ramirez, 23, of Mexico, on several charges. Officials say the alleged thieves may have targeted the $350,000 boat for parts, smuggling, or other illegal activities. "They weren't going to quit, neither were we," says Commander Randy Brown, who noted the many pleasure boats cruising in the area. "It clearly could have had a more tragic outcome."