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American avoids more jail time in Turks and Caicos ammunition case

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An American from Oklahoma, who was facing 12 years in prison in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is heading home after spending about two months in jail. Ryan Watson was arrested and charged with bringing ammunition into the British territory back in April.

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Watson said he accidentally had four rounds of hunting ammunition in his carry-on bag when he was preparing to leave the island back in April.

“I never recall putting that ammunition in that bag,” Watson said during an interview with “The Today Show.” “But somehow, they ended up in there.”

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Watson had gone on a hunting trip prior to meeting his wife in the island country for a birthday celebration, not realizing the bullets were in his bag. He called the ordeal an honest mistake and said he never meant to break the law.

There have been four other American tourists who also faced a similar fate.

In Turks and Caicos, it’s against the law to own or possess an unlicensed firearm or ammunition. Unlike the United States, there’s no constitutional right to carry a gun or ammo in Turks and Caicos.

In 2022, the Turks and Caicos government passed an amendment imposing a minimum 12-year prison sentence for anyone who breaks the law.

However, considering the American tourists’ cases, the Turks and Caicos government approved an amendment, changing the law. Judges will now have more discretion when sentencing those convicted in these types of special circumstances cases.

Watson has been in the island country since his April arrest while his wife and children have been home in the U.S. and did not face any charges.

The judge fined Watson $500 per bullet, a total of $2,000.

Watson’s lawyer posted on X that he’s expected to be back with his family in Oklahoma soon.

Watson spoke to “Good Morning America” before his sentencing and was very emotional when speaking about missing time with his son and daughter. He said he can’t wait to hug his kids again.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AN AMERICAN FROM OKLAHOMA – WHO WAS FACING 12 YEARS IN PRISON IN THE CARIBBEAN COUNTRY OF TURKS AND CAICOS – IS HEADING HOME AFTER SPENDING ABOUT TWO MONTHS IN JAIL. 

RYAN WATSON WAS ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH BRINGING AMMUNITION INTO THE BRITISH TERRITORY – BACK IN APRIL.

WATSON SAID HE ACCIDENTALLY HAD FOUR ROUNDS OF HUNTING AMMUNITION IN HIS CARRY-ON BAG – WHEN HE WAS PREPARING TO LEAVE THE ISLAND BACK IN APRIL. 

HE SPOKE WITH THE TODAY SHOW ABOUT THE ORDEAL:

(RYAN WATSON)

“I never recall putting that ammunition in that bag, but somehow they ended up in there.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

HE HAD GONE ON A HUNTING TRIP PRIOR TO MEETING HIS WIFE IN THE ISLAND COUNTRY FOR A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION – NOT REALIZING THE BULLETS WERE IN HIS BAG.

HE CALLED IT AN HONEST MISTAKE AND SAID HE NEVER MEANT TO BREAK THE LAW.

AND HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE. 

THERE’VE BEEN FOUR OTHER AMERICAN TOURISTS – WHO ALSO FACED A SIMILAR FATE.

IN TURKS AND CAICOS, IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO OWN OR POSSESS AN UNLICENSED FIREARM OR AMMUNITION.

UNLIKE THE UNITED STATES – THERE’S NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY A GUN OR AMMO IN TURKS AND CAICOS. 

IN 2022 – THE TURKS AND CAICOS GOVERNMENT PASSED AN AMENDMENT IMPOSING A MINIMUM 12-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR ANYONE WHO BREAKS THE LAW.

HOWEVER, IN LIGHT OF THE AMERICAN TOURISTS’ CASES, THE TURKS AND CAICOS GOVERNMENT APPROVED AN AMENDMENT, CHANGING THE LAW – NOW GIVING JUDGES SENTENCING THESE TYPES OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES CASES, MORE DISCRETION WHEN SENTENCING THOSE CONVICTED.

WATSON HAS BEEN IN THE ISLAND COUNTRY SINCE HIS APRIL ARREST – WHILE HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN HAVE BEEN HOME IN THE US AND DID NOT FACE ANY CHARGES.

THE JUDGE FINED WATSON $500 PER BULLET – A TOTAL OF $2-THOUSAND DOLLARS.

WATSON’S LAWYER WROTE ON X THAT HE’S EXPECTED TO BE BACK WITH HIS FAMILY IN OKLAHOMA SOON.

RYAN SPOKE TO GOOD MORNING AMERICA BEFORE HIS SENTENCING AND WAS VERY EMOTIONAL WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT MISSING TIME WITH HIS SON AND DAUGHTER. HE SAID HE CAN’T WAIT TO HUG HIS KIDS AGAIN.

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