‘Terrifying’ interrogation’: American faces 12 years in Turks and Caicos prison after 4 rounds of hunting ammo found in his luggage

An American man’s dream vacation has turned into a nightmare. He is now facing 12 years in a Turks and Caicos prison after four rounds of hunting ammunition were found in his luggage.

Ryan Watson, 40, was looking for rest and relaxation when he went on a tropical vacation with his wife to the Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos. However, Watson 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 luggage.

Watson and his wife traveled to Turks and Caicos in early April to celebrate friends’ 40th birthdays. On April 12, security at the Howard Hamilton International Airport found four rounds of ammo “unknowingly left in a duffel bag from a deer hunting trip,” according to a GoFundMe post made on behalf of the family.

The couple – from Oklahoma – were able to get through security with the ammo at their local Will Rogers World Airport. The TSA is currently reviewing protocols at Will Rogers World Airport to determine how the ammunition was able to sneak through security.

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

Ryan and Valerie Watson were both charged with possession of ammunition – a charge that carries a minimum of 12 years in prison in Turks & Caicos.

Watson told the Daily Mail that he and his wife were subjected to a “terrifying interrogation” after their arrest. He added, “It was all pretty intimidating.”

Valerie told WBTS-TV, “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.”

Ultimately, the charges were dropped against Valerie Watson – an elementary school teacher. She has since returned to Oklahoma to be with her children.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt – a Republican – sent a letter to the Turks and Caicos Islands government in an attempt to “vouch” for Watson and have him released.

“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,” Stitt wrote.

“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.”

Stitt concluded, “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.”

After spending nearly two weeks in detention, Watson paid a $15,000 bond to be released from jail, according to the Royal Turks & Caicos Islands Police Force. His release has conditions, including surrendering his passport and not being able to leave the country. He also must check in with local authorities.

Forced to reside in Turks and Caicos has been costly for Watson.

Watson has reportedly been staying at a $500-a-night AirBnB with the financial assistance help of his in-laws.

At the time of publication, the GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $210,000 for the Watson family to assist him with legal fees and provide money for his living expenses.

Watson’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 7.

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