US Tourist Arrested in Turks and Caicos After Hunting Ammo Found in Luggage

A misunderstanding caused Valerie Watson’s weekend getaway in Turks and Caicos to end with her returning to Oklahoma City without her husband.

Ryan Watson, her husband, is now incarcerated on the island and is subject to a probable 12-year minimum term after the discovery of four rounds of ammunition in his carry-on luggage by airport security. The Watsons claimed it was never their intention to bring ammunition.

Although she was released without charges, her husband was confined in Turks and Caicos.

Although it is now illegal to possess a firearm or ammunition in Turks and Caicos, visitors used to be able to get away with a small fine. But a court order from February made it so that even visitors trying to leave might face jail time.

Since November 2022, eight prosecutions have involved ammunition and weapons, three of which are still pending in court. The defendants are all out on bail.

When Michael Grim, an Indiana man, pled guilty last year to inadvertently carrying weapons in his checked baggage, a court determined that his case had unique circumstances. He was incarcerated for over six months.

The judge’s goal was to send a warning to Americans. Grim claimed that the fact that he is an American was the main purpose of his punishment.

The government of Turks and Caicos issued a long statement clarifying the legislation and stressing that the court must order jail sentences regardless of the circumstances.

The Turks and Caicos Islands have a zero-tolerance policy on guns, ammunition, and stray gunfire, warns the US Embassy in the Bahamas.

The authorities are quite rigorous regarding legislation pertaining to weapons and ammunition. Anyone in possession of weapons, ammunition, or firearms can be sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison.

If you are planning to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands with a weapon, declaring it with your airline is not an authorization to carry. It is your obligation to make sure your luggage is devoid of forbidden items.

No amount of carelessness will allow the embassy to gain your release from detention, even if you unknowingly carry a weapon or ammo to Turks and Caicos.