American Man Faces 12 Years in Turks and Caicos Prison After Ammo Found in His Luggage

An American man is facing 12 years in a Turks and Caicos prison after four rounds of hunting ammunition were found in his luggage.

Ryan Watson, 40, said that he had been subjected to “terrifying interrogation” and exorbitant living fees after Turks and Caicos authorities discovered four rounds of hunting ammo in his suitcase.

Security at the Howard Hamilton International Airport found four rounds of ammo “unknowingly left in a duffel bag from a deer hunting trip” on April 12, according to a GoFundMe post made on behalf of the family.

Watson and his wife Valerie traveled to Turks and Caicos in early April to celebrate friends’ 40th birthdays and were able to get through security with the ammo at their local Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma.

“TSA is conducting a review at OKC, which was the originating airport,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

The couple was both charged with possession of ammunition, an offense that carries a minimum of 12 years in prison in Turks & Caicos.

“When I heard that, I immediately was terrified because I was like, we can’t both be in prison for 12 years. We have kids at home. And this is such an innocent mistake that we didn’t even know we weren’t – we didn’t even know it was there. So yeah, my immediate thought was our kids and them being, you know, parentless for, for that long,” Valerie said.

Charges were later dropped against Valerie and she has since returned to Oklahoma.

“The Watsons are upstanding members of their community and the State of Oklahoma, and I can assure you countless others stand willing to confirm their high moral characters,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote in a letter to the Turks and Caicos government.

“First and foremost, the Watsons are devoted parents,” Stitt said. “Their two young children, Van and Ellie, need their parents home without delay. Mr. and Mrs. Watson would never intentionally break the law. Again, they are unwavering in moral character, reliable neighbors, and devoted community members.”

“Like many in Oklahoma, Mr. Watson is an avid outdoorsman. We learn to safely use and transport firearms from a young age. To the extent Mr. Watson possessed ammunition, it would have been due to an inadvertent oversight, not an intentional attempt to break the law. The Watsons are great Oklahomans, and their children and community need them home soon.”