FORT MYERS, Fla., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Three men stole a 900-horsepower speedboat and were captured after a 20-hour chase around the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The three allegedly stole the privately-owned boat, powered by three 300-horsepower marine engines and valued at $350,000, on Thursday from a dock in Fort Myers, Fla. They surrendered Friday, 65 miles west of Cuba and 125 miles east of Cancun, Mexico, after a 345-mile chase involving three Coast Guard planes, a cutter and a small-boat crew.
Shortly after the alleged thieves defeated the speedboat's anti-theft devices and took off for international waters, they attempted to ram a Lee County, Fla., sheriff's office boat pursuing them.
"We were able to get out of the way at the last second, or they would have come right over us," added Lt. Chris Nyce of the sherriff's marine detail.
The suspects brought extra fuel, but the chase did not involve guns, Scott added.
The chase ended when the men surrendered; they and the boat were towed back to Fort Myers by the Coast Guard.
Vidal Farfan-Ramirez, 23, of Mexico; Raul De La Vega Sauri, 25, of Homestead, Fla., and David Llanes Vasquez, 33, of Miami, were arrested and charged with burglary, larceny and fleeing police. Vasquez was hospitalized for a suspected injured leg, a sheriff's spokesman said.
High-powered speedboats are an inviting target for thieves. Lt. Col. Holly Deal of the U.S. Coast Guard's St. Petersburg, Fla., sector said, saying there have been a "rash" of thefts in the past six months.
The owner of the speedboat involved in last week's chase, Jack Thomas of Fort Myers Beach, commented, "I think it is just one of those things. It is the world we live in. You take all the measures you can and be happy we have guys like the Lee County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Coast Guard."