Six American men detained for weeks in Honduras accused of violating weapons laws were released from prison Thursday, a U.S. congressman said.
"It is with great pleasure I am able to announce the safe release of the six Americans wrongfully imprisoned in Honduras," U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
The statement added 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.
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.
Michael McCabe, an American filmmaker who joined the American contractors in Ahuas and was present when they were arrested told Fox News Latino earlier this month that the reason the crew had guns aboard was, “The area has a lot of narcotics trade, there’s piracy, the captain [Robert Mayne, who is also Aqua Quest International's founder and president] has dealt with piracy before.”
In addition to Butler, those detained included Robert Mayne, his brother Michael Mayne, Nick Cook, Devon Butler, Kelly Garrett and Steve Matanich.
A third Mayne brother, Stephen, is the company's COO. Reached for comment at the beginning of June, he told FNL that Rep. Fitzpatrick had been "tireless in his efforts to get the crew released."
In addition to salvage work, the company carries out scientific investigation and documentation of sites.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.