Man Facing 12 Years After Having Ammo in Carry-On at Airport

( – Ryan Watson, a married father of two from Oklahoma, faces 12 years in prison after being found with ammunition in his carry-on luggage when trying to return from Turks and Caicos, according to a fundraiser page set up by his family.

Watson and his wife Valerie were able to fly out from Oklahoma City Airport without being stopped by security, and enjoyed a vacation with friends in the Caribbean to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday, before attempting to make their return journey on April 12th. The pair were placed under arrest after their bags were searched by airport security. Valerie was released from custody on April 23rd and was able to return home to their children, but Ryan remains stuck on the island. He was released on bail after paying $15,000 and agreeing to turn in his passport and remain at a fixed address pending his trial and is next due back in court on June 7th.

Valerie Watson is attempting to raise funds to cover legal costs and to help keep the family afloat in her husband’s absence. She has described the “unfamiliar, daunting, and expensive” legal system of Turks and Caicos that she must now navigate to help her husband. The Turks and Caicos Islands have stringent rules about weapons and ammunition, and an alert made by the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas in September 2023 warns that the penalty for traveling to Turks and Caicos with weapons or ammunition is a minimum prison sentence of 12 years.

The Watsons, who have expressed regret at not checking their luggage better before leaving for their vacation, claim that the four rounds of ammunition had been mistakenly left in the bag after the bag was used on a deer hunting trip. The couple now face the possibility of Ryan’s imprisonment away from his family for over a decade and the fear of losing their home. As well as donating to their fundraiser, some Americans have called for a boycott of tourism to Turks and Caicos, whose economy relies heavily on American visitors.

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