Oklahoma Man Faces Up to 12 Years in Prison for Ammunition in Carry-On Bag at Turks and Caicos Airport

Oklahoma Man Faces Up to 12 Years in Prison for Ammunition in Carry-On Bag at Turks and Caicos Airport

An Oklahoma man, Ryan Watson, is currently facing the possibility of up to 12 years in prison after being arrested at a Turks and Caicos airport for having ammunition in his carry-on bag. The incident occurred on April 12, as Ryan and his wife Valerie were returning home from their vacation on the island. The couple, who have two young children, had been celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday during their trip.

According to a description on the family’s GoFundMe page, the ammunition was unknowingly left in a duffel bag from a previous deer hunting trip. The oversight went unnoticed by TSA when the Watsons departed from the United States. However, upon their arrival in Turks and Caicos, local airport security discovered four rounds of ammunition during the screening process.

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas had issued a travel alert in September 2023, explicitly warning Americans not to bring ammunition to the islands. The alert emphasized that TCI authorities strictly enforce firearms-related laws, with a minimum custodial sentence of 12 years for traveling to TCI with any firearm, ammunition, or weapon. The embassy also advised Americans to thoroughly check their luggage for any forgotten ammunition or weapons before departing for TCI.

While the Watsons acknowledge their mistake, they find themselves entangled in a legal system that is unfamiliar, daunting, and expensive, operating differently from the American justice system. Valerie Watson was released from jail in Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, but her husband remains in custody with no current timetable for bail or trial.

Ryan Watson, a 40-year-old resident of Oklahoma, appeared in magistrate court on Wednesday, where he was charged with one count of ammunition possession. He was granted $15,000 bail under specific conditions, including surrendering his passport, reporting to the Grace Bay Police Station twice a week, residing at a designated address, and obtaining court permission for any travel outside the islands. Ryan is scheduled to appear in court again on June 7 for a sufficiency hearing.

The Watson family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover their mounting legal fees, living expenses, and the overwhelming stress they are facing. They express their gratitude for the support received but request that individuals refrain from contacting TCI government officials during this time.

Author: CrimeDoor

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