U.S. Dad Faces 12 Years for Ammo in Bag During Island Vacation

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(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) An American tourist faces up to 12 years in prison because he carried a bag of ammunition in his luggage while visiting Turks and Caicos on vacation, CBS reported.

Ryan Watson, an American tourist brought hunting ammunition with him in his carry-on bag earlier this month. After airport security found the ammunition, he was jailed on the island and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years in prison.

“We were trying to pack board shorts and flip flops,” Watson told the news station. “Packing ammunition was not at all our intent.”

He said that their tropical getaway “went from what was supposed to be a dream vacation to a nightmare.”

His wife, Valerie, was allowed to return home on Sunday after she was initially detained as well. After hugging her two children, she said tearfully, “just getting to hold them again, it just filled my mamma heart.”

Still, Ryan Watson feared the prospect that he would miss out on such an opportunity until his kids were adults.

“I can’t even begin to think that this very innocent, regrettable mistake would prevent me from being able to, you know, watch my son graduate or teach him to shave or take my daughter to dances,” he said, his voice quivering.

“It’s just unfathomable,” he added. “I do not—I can’t process it.”

Up until recently, visitors who were carrying ammunition could be subject to a fine. But in February, a Turks and Caicos court issued a February ruling that would mean a lengthy prison sentence for those carrying ammunition or possessing a firearm.

Even tourists in the process of leaving the country are now subject to prison time.

As a result, the Watsons are not alone. Bryan Hagerich, a Pennsylvanian, is currently awaiting trial in Turks and Caicos for the same reason.

According to Hagerich, the eight nights he spent in their local jail were “some of the darkest, hardest times of my life, quite frankly.”

He has been waiting over two months to find out his fate.

“These last 70 days have been kind of a roller coaster, just the pain and suffering of having your family at home and I’m here,” he added.

According to Michael Grim, another American tourist from Indiana who was previously imprisoned for six months in Turks and Caicos, the prison conditions are unpleasant, with “no clean running water” and a high risk of “tropical illnesses.”

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