Lawyer: Bucks man jailed in Honduras is released

Posted: June 28, 2014

A Bucks County native and his crewmates from a shipwreck-salvage team, jailed in Honduras since May, were released Thursday, his lawyer and a local representative said.

The release of the crew ended an ordeal that kept their families on edge and attracted the attention of federal lawmakers.

Devon Butler, 27, of Doylestown, was arrested May 5 when a ship carrying him and five others arrived in the coastal town of Puerto Lempira, according to reports.

Honduran authorities arrested all six on smuggling allegations after finding guns aboard the ship, and their detention was upheld during two hearings over 10 days.

Supporters said the men, sailing on the Florida-based Aqua Quest International, had journeyed to Honduras to remove logs from near a rural town. They had guns to protect themselves during ocean voyages, according to petitions circulated on their case.

In subsequent weeks, family members, lawyers, and politicians - including Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) - lobbied for their release.

Fitzpatrick visited the men in prison Monday and met with Honduran officials to press the case, his office said Thursday in a statement.

Fitzpatrick described the conditions in prison as "deplorable" and praised the crew for its "strength and courage . . . in the face of uncertainty and danger in a faraway place."

Armida Lopez de Arguello, the attorney in Honduras representing Butler and the others, said an appeals court late last week had ruled that there was "no reason for imprisonment."

Lopez de Arguello said the men wanted "to leave as soon as possible," and Fitzpatrick's office said they were in the process of returning to the United States.

Honduran officials with knowledge of the case could not immediately be reached for comment.


cpalmer@phillynews.com

609-217-8305

@cs_palmer

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