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TribBlog: Murder at Falcon Lake

Law enforcement agencies are again warning patrons of Falcon Lake in South Texas to stay on the U.S. side of the popular fishing spot. The warning follows the fatal shooting of a U.S. man by Mexican pirates who allegedly attacked him after he traveled into Guerrero Viejo, Tamaulipas, on his Jet Ski.

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Following the fatal shooting of a U.S. citizen boating on Falcon Lake on Thursday, Texas law enforcement agencies are asking visitors to the popular freshwater fishing spot to stay clear of the Mexican side of the international body of water.

A 30-year-old man was shot in the head by Mexican gunmen, officials said, after he and his wife navigated their Jet Skis past the international boundary in what officials say was a sight-seeing trip to Guerrero Viejo, Tamaulipas. Authorities have not found the man's body, but he is presumed dead. Officials allege that the attackers were armed Mexican pirates, who continued shooting at the surviving wife after she fled back toward U.S. waters.

“The Zapata County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are telling boaters on Falcon Lake to stay on the United States side of the lake and not venture into Mexican waters,” said a statement released today by the Texas DPS. “Fishermen are still advised to stay as far away as possible from any of the Argos-type fishing boats typically used as fishing vessels by Mexican fishermen. These boats have a large prow, a small outboard motor without a cowling and no identification numbers on the hull.”

Officials said the assailants could 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.”

Thursday’s incident marks the fifth time since April that boaters have run into trouble on the popular lake. According to the DPS statement, previous attacks include:

April 30: Four heavily armed men boarded two boats near the Old Guerrero area and demanded money. After collecting $200 in cash, the bandits tried to follow the U.S. boats as they sped back to U.S. waters. The bandits stopped once they reached the U.S. boundary.

May 6: Two armed men approached a boat near Marker 14 on the north side of Salado Island on top of the ruins at Old Guerrero. The men demanded money, which the fishermen gave them.

May 16: Five armed men boarded a boat on the United States side of the lake near Marker 7. Investigators have no further information on the incident.

Aug 31: Falcon Lake pirates, in a small boat marked “Game Wardin [sic]” in duct-taped letters, attempted to stop a Texas fisherman. The fisherman's knowledge of previous DPS safety warnings about Falcon Lake and the misspelling of "warden" alerted him something was wrong, and he outran the Mexican vessel to safety.

Lake patrons are advised to call the Zapata County Sheriff’s Department to report emergencies.

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