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American arrested in Turks and Caicos after ammo found in luggage out on bail, faces June court date

Turks and Caicos under new firearm rules
New gun laws in Turks and Caicos lead to arrest of American tourist 03:22

Ryan Watson, the American tourist who is facing a possible 12-year prison term in Turks and Caicos after ammo was allegedly found in his luggage by airport security, is out on bail.

Watson, 40, secured a $15,000 bond on Wednesday after spending two nights in jail. The Oklahoma father of two must stay on the island and has to check in every Tuesday and Thursday at the Grace Bay Police Station while his case moves forward. Watson's wife, Valerie Watson, is not facing any charges and was able to return home to Oklahoma on Tuesday.

His next court date is scheduled for June 7.

Watson's bond comes as Tyler Wenrich, a 31-year-old from Virginia, was charged with the same count of possession of ammunition earlier this week, Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police announced Thursday. According to police, Wenrich was allegedly found with ammo when he went through a security checkpoint after arriving on the island of Grand Turk from a cruise ship on Tuesday.

Bryan Hagerich, yet another American who was also arrested for allegedly having ammo in his luggage back in February, goes before a judge May 3, with sentencing likely to happen shortly after. Ryan Watson is hoping his case can be expedited based on the outcome of Hagerich's case.   

A GoFundMe page set up for the Watson family had, as of Thursday evening, raised more than $175,000. 

"I'm completely humbled and feel so incredibly blessed that people have been responding in such a powerful way," Ryan Watson told CBS News. "I am still very prayerful that the State Department can help us find a solution to get back home."

Valerie Watson previously told CBS News the ammo was brought to the island by mistake.

"Packing ammunition was not at all our intent," she said.

Following a CBS News report on Ryan Watson, the State Department on Wednesday sent a tweet warning American tourists traveling to Turks and Caicos to check their luggage for stray ammunition and firearms.  

Turks and Caicos authorities "strictly enforce all firearms-and-ammunition-related laws," the State Department wrote. "Declaring a weapon in your luggage with an airline carrier does not grant permission to bring the weapon into the Turks and Caicos Islands and will result in your arrest."

Possessing a gun or ammunition is prohibited in Turks and Caicos. In February, a court order mandated that even tourists in the process of leaving the country, who had previously been able to just pay a fine, are subject to prison time.

At least one gun rights group is urging its members not to travel to Turks and Caicos because of the recent arrests. 

"To all U.S. gun owners, Do Not Travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory located southeast of the Bahamas, and if you have already made plans, reconsider your destination," the Second Amendment Association wrote.

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