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Yet Another American Has Been Arrested in the Turks and Caicos For Illegal Possession of Ammunition as State Department Issues Urgent Warning

Yet Another American Has Been Arrested in the Turks and Caicos For Illegal Possession of Ammunition as State Department Issues Urgent Warning

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What was meant to be a dream vacation in the idyllic surroundings of the Turks and Caicos Islands has turned into a living nightmare for at least five Americans who have been arrested in the British Overseas Territory for illegal possession of ammunition.

The latest arrest is believed to have taken place on Monday at Providenciales International Airport, where an American woman was stopped by airport security when bullets were found in her hand luggage, local media have reported.

The unnamed woman is one of five American citizens who have been arrested in recent months in the Turks and Caicos after ammunition was found in their hand luggage just before they were due to fly home.

Just like in the United Kingdom, possession of firearms and ammunition is strictly prohibited in the Turks and Caicos, and the local Parliament recently raised the minimum mandatory sentence for illegal possession of ammunition to 12 years imprisonment.

According to the Turks and Caicos government, among the Americans currently charged with firearms offences is 72-year-old Michael Lee Evans from Texas, who is currently on bail after he pleaded guilty to possession of seven 9 millimetre rounds.

Also on bail is Bryan Hagerich from Pennslyvania, who was arrested after airport security found 20 rifle rounds in his hand luggage, while 40-year-old Ryan Watson from Oklahoma is also on bail following the discovery of four rounds of ammunition in his hand luggage.

Finally, 31-year-old Tyler Scott Wenrich from Virginia remains held in custody after he was found to be in possession of two 9-millimetre handgun rounds.

Legal proceedings against four of the five Americans have been adjourned until June while the island’s judiciary works out whether ‘exceptional circumstances’ may negate the need to impose the otherwise mandatory 12-year sentence.

Instead, a much shorter term of imprisonment, plus a fine, might be suitable for otherwise law-abiding US citizens who would be in lawful possession of ammunition back at home.

The recent slew of cases has been enough for the US State Department to issue an urgent advisory warning Americans to check every ‘nook and cranny’ of their luggage to make sure there isn’t a single shell of case in the baggage prior to boarding an international flight.

“In many countries, you can be arrested for having any ammunition, even a single stray shell or casing,” the advisory reads.

Matt’s take

Although a recent slew of arrests in the Turks and Caicos are currently making the headlines, reports of Americans being arrested abroad for illegal possession of ammunition and firearms are nothing new.

The TSA says it’s doing better than ever at stopping people boarding flights with firearms, but the reality is that Americans are still managing to get through TSA checkpoints with items in their hand luggage that are strictly prohibited and carry very severe penalties if someone is found in possession of them.

Earlier this year, a United Airlines pilot was even arrested at Edinburgh Airport after a stun gun was found in his hand luggage – an item that in the United Kingdom is officially classed as a firearm.

And late last year, U.S. State Senator Jeff Wilson, 19th Legislative District for the State of Washington, was arrested in Hong Kong after he realized he had a loaded handgun in his hand luggage.

Luckily for Wilson, he escaped a custodial sentence after striking a deal with prosecutors.

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