Oklahoma man with ammo in Turks and Caicos airport faces 12 years in prison: 'Risk of losing everything'

An Oklahoma man is facing up to 12 years in prison for having ammunition in his carry-on bag at a Turks and Caicos airport, according to a GoFundMe page for his family.

Ryan and Valerie Watson, the parents of two young children, were flying home from their island vacation, where they were celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday, on April 12 when they were arrested at the airport.

“They had their lives turned upside down when they tried to return home, as local airport security found four rounds of ammunition unknowingly left in a duff[le]bag from a deer hunting trip,” a description on the family’s GoFundMe page states. “It was not noticed by TSA when leaving America. Now, they are facing a legal system that is unfamiliar, daunting, and expensive that operates differently than the American Justice System.”

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas issued a travel alert in September 2023 telling Americans not to bring ammunition to the islands.

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Ryan and Valerie Watson were arrested in Turks and Caicos on April 12 after island airport officials found ammunition in Ryan’s carry-on bag. Ryan faces up to 12 years in prison. (GoFundMe)

“TCI authorities strictly enforce all firearms related laws,”the alert states. “The penalty for traveling to TCI with a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon is a minimum custodial sentence of twelve (12) years.”

The embassy further stated that Americans should “carefully check” their luggage “for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing for TCI.”

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But the Watsons insist they made a terrible mistake. Valerie Watson was released from jail in Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, but her husband remains in custody “with no current timetable for any possibility of bail or trial date.”

A Turks and Caicos court confirmed that Ryan Watson was granted $15,000 bail on Tuesday for the ammunition possession charge (Turks and Caicos police)

“While we appreciate your support and willingness to help, please do not reach out directly to any of the TCI government officials during this time,” the family wrote on their GoFundMe page.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force on Wednesday confirmed Ryan Watson’s arrest, saying the 40-year-old Oklahoma resident appeared in magistrate court Wednesday, when he was charged with one count of ammunition possession. He was also granted $15,000 bail under the condition that he does not travel outside the islands without the court’s permission, he surrenders his passport, he reports to the Grace Bay Police Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he resides at a specific address.

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Ryan is due back in court for a “sufficiency” hearing on June 7, officials said.

Ryan Watson was granted $15,000 bail under the condition that he does not travel outside the islands without the court’s permission, he surrenders his passport, he reports to the Grace Bay Police Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he resides at a specific address. (Getty Images)

The Wastson family’s GoFundMe page says the couple faces “mounting legal fees, living expenses, and the overwhelming stress of their situation.”

“The emotional and financial toll is immense, and they are at risk of losing everything,” the page reads.

Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.

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