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The company Aqua Quest International typically salvages precious cargo from shipwrecks. The crew went to Honduras to recover valuable mahogany logs from the bottom of a river bed in cooperation with a local city and an Indian tribe.
However, after the ship pulled into port, authorities came aboard and arrested the crew.
The company says crew members had guns on board for protection against pirates, and had notified Honduran maritime authorities of this before entering that country's waters. But they are charged with illegal weapons possession.
"We were solicited to go down there and do business. It's not like we just showed up there unannounced," said Stephen Mayne, the company's chief operating officer and brother of the ship's captain, who is among those jailed. "We spent three years lining this up. We had government officials waiting at the dock for us. But some local officials saw a chance to pounce on us and take advantage of us."