MEXICO CITY (AP) — Six American men detained for weeks in Honduras accused of violating weapons laws were released from prison Thursday, a U.S. congressman said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said in a statement that the six men were "in the process of traveling back to the United States and being reunited with their families."
Fitzpatrick said he visited the men in Honduras on Monday and had been involved since May in efforts to release them. He said one of the men, Devon Butler, is the son of a constituent.
Butler's mother, Rosemary Carroll of Bucks County, was quoted in the statement as saying, "We are grateful to all who have supported us through this lengthy and difficult ordeal."
The crewmen from Florida-based Aqua Quest International were put in a prison in Puerto Lempira on May 5, after Honduran police and sailors raided their newly arrived 65-foot vessel and found a weapon, according to the shipwreck salvage and research company.
The company said the crew was working on a project with aid workers and officials in the town of Ahuas to help local lobster divers, who can suffer permanent damage from dives as deep as 150 feet (45 meters).
Ahuas is a Miskito Indian town in an impoverished Honduran region often exploited by drug traffickers. The area has been targeted by joint U.S.-Honduran anti-drug missions.
In addition to Butler, those detained included Michael Mayne, Nick Cook, Devon Butler, Kelly Garrett, Steve Matanich and company president Robert Mayne.
The company says on its website that in addition to salvage work, it carries out scientific investigation and documentation of sites.