Oklahoma Hunter Facing 12 Years In Prison In Turks & Caicos After Accidentally Leaving 4 Bullets In His Luggage

Ryan Watson
Ryan Watson

Terrible situation…

An Oklahoma man is behind bars in Turks & Caicos and facing 12 YEARS in prison after airport security found 4 bullets that he had inadvertently left in his luggage.

40-year old Ryan Watson and his wife Valerie were on the island for a friend’s 40th birthday, and as they were going through security to leave, a small bag of bullets was found in his luggage.

Ryan, an avid hunter, says that he immediately recognized the ammo from a recent deer hunting trip.

“I recognized them and thought, ‘what a bonehead mistake.’ I had no idea that those were in there.”

Both Ryan and his wife were initially charged, and because the nation passed strict gun control laws in 2022 that mandated a minimum sentence of 12 years for anyone found in possession of ammunition, were facing lengthy prison sentences and had their passports seized.

But earlier this week Valerie had her charges dropped and was able to return home to their kids after spending 11 days on the island.

Ryan, on the other hand, is still facing charges, and both Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt and Senator Markwayne Mullin are fighting to help secure his release.

In a letter sent to Turks & Caicos officials on April 16, Governor Stitt called Watson “an avid outdoorsman,” and the ammunition “an inadvertent oversight, not an intentional attempt to break the law.”

Apparently the ammo was missed by TSA when the Watsons left America, which seems like it was a pretty big miss on their part. And now it’s one that’s caused the Oklahoma native and hunter to be staring down 12 years in prison in a foreign country.

He’s also not the only American currently in Turks & Caicos due to an oversight while packing: Bryan Hagerich, a former professional baseball player who was once drafted by the Florida Marlins, is also awaiting trial after hunting ammo was found in his checked luggage earlier this year.

The court on the island recently issued an order that even tourists visiting or leaving the island found in possession of ammunition are subject to mandatory imprisonment.

The US Embassy released a travel alert back in September 23 to alert tourists of the country’s strict laws:

“Firearms, ammunition, and other weapons are not permitted in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).   TCI authorities strictly enforce all firearms related laws.  The penalty for traveling to TCI with a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon is a minimum custodial sentence of twelve (12) years.

We wish to remind all travelers that declaring a weapon in your luggage with an airline carrier does not grant permission to bring the weapon into TCI and will result in your arrest.

We strongly encourage you to carefully check your luggage for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing for TCI. If you bring a firearm or ammunition into TCI, we will not be able to secure your release from custody.  You are subject to TCI laws and must follow local law enforcement procedures.”

Just a terrible situation all around.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock