Galveston cruise ship passenger sentenced to prison for attempted strangling

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A passenger who departed Galveston on a cruise ship in 2018 with a woman he later tried to strangle and suffocate while on-board has been sentenced to federal prison for the crime.

Hector Fernando Blanco, 45, was ordered to serve three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the attack, which happened approximately 45 miles off the coast of Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

"No excuse can justify Hector Blanco's violent actions that turned a dream vacation into a dreadful nightmare for his victim," FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said in a statement. "I am extremely proud of FBI special agents in the Texas City Resident Agency and our victim specialists who provided compassionate support to the brave survivor who reported this crime."

Blanco was aboard the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas on Nov. 18, 2018, when he bound the woman with a towel over her mouth and then twisted it around her neck and dragged her across the cabin floor, authorities said. The woman was able to escape when Blanco tripped, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Blanco, a resident of Watford City, North Dakota, was allowed to remain free on bond after his conviction in January and can voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future, authorities said.

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