Oklahoma Man’s Ammo Mishap at Turks and Caicos Airport Could Land Him 12 Years Behind Bars

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According to a GoFundMe account for his family, an Oklahoma man could face up to 12 years in prison for carrying ammunition in his carry-on bag at an airport in Turks and Caicos.

On April 12, Ryan and Valerie Watson were traveling home from an island vacation where they had been celebrating a friend’s 40th Birthday. They were arrested at the airport.

The family’s GoFundMe account states, “Their lives were turned upside down as airport security discovered four rounds of ammunition that had been left unknowingly in a duffle bag from a hunting trip.” “The TSA did not notice it when they left America.” “They are now facing a legal system that is unknown, intimidating, expensive, and operates differently from the American Justice System.”

In September 2023, the U.S. Embassy issued a travel warning to Americans telling them not to bring any ammunition into the Bahamas.

The alert says that “TCI authorities strictly enforce all firearms laws.” The alert states that “traveling to TCI with ammunition, firearms, or any other weapon will result in a minimum 12-year custodial term.”

The embassy also stated that Americans “should carefully check” their luggage before leaving for TCI “for any stray weapons or ammunition.”

The Watsons, however, insist that they made a grave mistake. Valerie Watson, her husband, and their two children were released from custody in Turks and Caicos on Tuesday.

The family posted a message on their GoFundMe account: “We appreciate your willingness to help but please refrain from contacting any TCI government officials at this time.”

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force confirmed Wednesday that Ryan Watson, a 40-year-old Oklahoma resident, was arrested. He appeared in magistrate’s court on Wednesday and was charged with ammunition possession. The court also approved a bail of $15,000 on the condition that Watson not leave the islands without permission from the court, surrender his passport, report to the Grace Bay Police Station every Tuesday and Thursday, and reside at a certain address.

Officials said that Ryan will be back in court on June 7 for a “sufficiency hearing”.

According to the Watson Family’s GoFundMe Page, the couple is facing “mounting legal costs, living expenses, and the overwhelming strain of their situation.”

The page states: “The emotional and monetary toll on these people is enormous, and they risk losing everything.”