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Paradise Lost: Another American Arrested in Turks and Caicos for Ammo in Bag

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Grace Bay on Turks and Caicos. VV Nincic Photo.

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Another American tourist was arrested at Howard Hamilton International Airport in Turks and Caicos on Monday after ammunition was allegedly found in their luggage during a routine security check, according to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police and Breitbart. This latest arrest brings the total number of Americans facing charges for ammunition possession in the British territory to five.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police did not disclose the name or gender of the person arrested, but NBC 10 Boston reported that the tourist was a woman. This arrest occurred as U.S. tourist Tyler Wenrich was in court facing similar charges. Wenrich was detained on April 20 after Royal Caribbean security discovered two bullets in his bag when he reboarded the ship following a day excursion on Grand Turk.

Wenrich’s case is progressing quickly. His father reported that the judge had received an expedited timeline for the case from the chief justice, with written arguments due within seven days and oral arguments and a plea hearing set for next Tuesday. Sentencing could occur by May 28.

Three other American men, Michael Lee Evans of Texas, Bryan Hagerich of Pennsylvania, and Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, are also facing charges for possessing ammunition in Turks and Caicos. Evans was arrested in December, Hagerich in February and Watson in early April. Each has claimed the ammunition was brought into the country by mistake.

The penalties under Turks and Caicos’ strict guns and ammunition laws are severe, with the potential for 12-year prison sentences, though judges can consider exceptional circumstances. All five detained Americans insist the incidents were innocent mistakes, yet the legal system in Turks and Caicos is treating these cases with utmost seriousness.

For U.S. travelers, this series of arrests underscores the critical importance of thoroughly checking luggage for prohibited items before flying to foreign destinations or avoiding foreign destinations altogether.

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