ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Six Americans remain in a rural Honduran prison, after being arrested last month on suspicion of smuggling weapons into the country. The men arrived in the Central American nation by boat, ready to begin work on a salvage project, along the northern Honduran coast. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports that the men say the guns were on board for the protection - for protection from pirates.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The captain and the five-man crew of the ship with the maritime salvage company, Aqua Quest, pulled into Puerto Lempira on May 5. The men were to begin clearing mahogany logs from a river channel. Proceeds of the valuable wood were to be split between the company and the nearby village of Ahuas. Captain and owner, Robert Mayne says, he had alerted port authorities of the guns on board a month before the crew's arrival. He says, they were all for personal protection. Speaking from the rural Honduran prison, where he and the men of been held for more than a month, Mayne says his first order of business was to go directly to the port captain and hand over the weapons. But instead, they were met by local officials.
(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)
ROBERT MAYNE: We're an American company. We were invited down. We had a legal contract with the municipality of Ahuas. We had government officials waiting for us at the dock. And we were intercepted by an element that had a different agenda.
KAHN: Mayne wouldn't elaborate, but did add that his company abides by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies, working abroad, from paying bribes. Honduras, especially the remote northern coast, has become a favorite trade route for drug traffickers. Attempts to reach the Honduran prosecutor were unsuccessful. Honduran embassy officials wouldn't comment on the case. The men are being held in a rudimentary prison, with little food and poor sanitation. They're paying $20 a day to be housed together. If convicted, they face up to 16 years in prison. Carry Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.