Crew detained in Honduras back home

Tarpon Springs, FL -- As their ship entered the harbor in Tarpon Springs, family members cheered and the Aqua Quest sounded her horn.

After more than two months, the six-member crew was finally home.

There were plenty of hugs, kisses, and even a few tears of joy as the crew finally stepped ashore in Tarpon springs.

"It was one of the best moments of my life to see him back," said Rosemary Carroll, whose son Devon Butler was one of the men held.

After spending nearly two months detained in a Honduran jail, Butler said he was glad to be back. "When you're down there, you feel like you're on your own. You're in the jungle. In prison. You're like, 'What are you going to do?'"

"We were not hurt by anybody, but the conditions were filthy, dirty... no running water, no plumbing. Bugs crawling on us at night," said Robert Mayne, Captain of the Aqua Quest.

Family members brought balloons, a DJ playing patriotic tunes and banners to the docks to welcome the group home.

"I missed you Daddy, a lot," said 5-year-old Ethan Cook, who hadn't said his father, crew member Nick Cook for months.

For Nick it was a painful length of time away from his son.

"It brought tears to my eyes... brought tears to my eyes," he said. "I haven't seen him. I was down here working so much, I hadn't seen him since March."

The crew had gone to Honduras to teach a local tribe how to scuba dive and retrieve valuable black mahogany from a riverbed. For protection, the Aqua Quest crew was armed with several weapons, which they declared upon arriving in Honduras.

But they say the local police in the small town where they made port arrested them, charging them with gun smuggling and jailed them for nearly two months.

The crew calls it extortion.

"Absolutely, within 30 minutes of us being told we were going to be arrested, we had demands for a lot of money if we wanted to see freedom," said Mayne.

U.S.officials -- including Rep. Gus Bilirakis -- got involved, putting pressure on the Honduran government, which eventually cleared the crew to head home.

"The government of Honduras has to follow the rule of law, which is very important," said Bilirakis, "Otherwise, they're not gonna get any more assistance from us, as far as I'm concerned."

Once back in the safety of U.S. waters, Aqua Quest cleared customs. The crew, we're told, also held a brief ceremony on deck, and then they threw the weapons that had gotten them in trouble overboard, calling them bad luck.

Asked whether they would go back to Honduras, the crew said "yes," as long as they were assured they would be treated properly.

For now, they were happy to be back in the safety of U.S. waters, and the loving arms of their friends and families.

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