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Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman joins bipartisan group urging Turks and Caicos to release detained Americans

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman on Monday returned from a trip to Turks and Caicos, where he joined other members of Congress to urge officials to release Americans held there for having ammunition in their luggage. 

Last week a Florida woman became the fifth U.S. tourist to be charged with ammunition possession. One of the five Americans detained for carrying small amounts of ammunition in their luggage to the islands is Pennsylvanian Bryan Hagerich, of Somerset County, who was detained in February for having ammo in a checked bag. 

Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Josh Brecheen (R-OK), Michael Cloud (R-TX) and Bob Good (R-VA) were also part of the congressional delegation, according to a statement from Fetterman's office.

"We had the opportunity to meet each of the detained Americans, who were in good spirits but want to go home. These people did not set out to break the law. They are people who made a mistake and now face substantial time in prison because of it. As we articulated to [Turks and Caicos Islands] officials, I urge the court to be lenient when addressing this case," Fetterman said in the statement.

"After working tirelessly for Bryan Hagerich's release with Turks and Caicos officials, it is resoundingly clear that the nation — which relies heavily on the support of U.S. tourists — lacks the willingness to work in good faith to ensure his safe return home," said Reschenthaler, who represents part of Western Pennsylvania, in a statement. 

"No American should travel to Turks and Caicos until Bryan is released and the islands can ensure that any future U.S. tourists will not have to experience this ridiculous ordeal during their innocent vacations," he said. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro recently joined the governors of Florida and Virginia to urge Turks and Caicos to show mercy to Americans arrested on the islands as well.

Possessing either a gun or ammunition is prohibited in Turks and Caicos, but tourists were previously able to just pay a fine. That changed in February when a court order required even tourists to potentially face mandatory prison time in addition to paying a fine. 

The U.S. State Department has warned Americans traveling to Turks and Caicos to carefully check their luggage before leaving the U.S.

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