After reading the headline, you may be wondering if this is the same story I wrote last week about a man who was arrested at the Turks and Caicos airport, on his way home to Oklahoma, for having four stray bullets in his bag. Unfortunately, this is a new story.

Tyler Scott Wenrich of Virginia, USA, is charged with Possession of Ammunition.Yet another American is facing a minimum of 12 years in a Turks and Caicos prison for having ammunition in his bag. According to a press release from the Royal Turks and Caicos Island Police, “On Tuesday, 23rd April 2024, officers from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force charged a 31-year-old male. TYLER SCOTT WENRICH of Virginia, USA, is charged with POSSESSION OF AMMUNITION. Mr Wenrich appeared before a Grand Turk Magistrate yesterday (April 24th) and was remanded into custody at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pending a June 07th Sufficiency Hearing.  Based on reports, Mr. Wenrich travelled to Grand Turk on a cruise ship. While going through a security checkpoint, it was discovered Mr Wenrich allegedly had ammunition in his possession. Officers of the Grand Turk Police Station were called, and Mr Wenrich was arrested and subsequently charged.”, which first reported on this arrest, wrote, “It wasn’t disclosed what cruise ship he was on, but the Miami-based Carnival Sunrise docked in Grand Turk on the day of the arrest.”

This makes Tyler the third American in two months to be locked up on the tiny island of Turks and Caicos, which lies just south of the Bahamas. Last week, Ryan Watson from Oklahoma was arrested and in February, Bryan Hagerich from Pennsylvania was as well. All three allegedly only had bullets and no gun so it appears no malice was intended. As Bryan admitted, it was a “bonehead mistake.”

That’s the understatement of the year. Unfortunately, for them and their loved ones, Turks and Caicos has recently changed their laws regarding tourists apprehended with a gun or ammunition in their luggage. Previously, travelers would have to pay a fine but in February, a court order “mandated that even tourists in the process of leaving the country are subject to prison time.”

In September 2023, the US Embassy in the Bahamas posted a travel alert that read: “TRAVEL ALERT:  DO NOT BRING FIREARMS/AMMUNITION TO THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS. 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. Before traveling to TCI, please review the updated TCI Travel.State.Gov  page to learn more about restrictions on traveling with firearms. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.”

If you own a gun, it is essential that you double- and triple-check your bags and all its compartments to make sure there are no stray bullets inside. My advice is to not even use the same bag for travel that you use for hunting or to store your guns and ammunition.

These three arrests also bring up another important question: Why didn’t the TSA catch all three while screening them to board their planes? According to the TSA website, “Ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips, whether loaded or empty, must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm.” You can read the requirements governing the transport of ammunition in checked baggage here.

It’s possible the ammunition was in their checked luggage, which means it would not have presented a problem in the United States. But this is a good reminder to always know the laws of the country you’re visiting as they can be different and travelers will be subject to them. So it may bear repeating what the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas said in their travel alert above: If you violate the laws in Turks and Caicos, they will not be able to secure your release from custody.

It’s imperative that you know and follow local laws. All three of these men could have avoided this situation. Instead, they’re potentially facing 12 years in a foreign prison.

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6 Comments On "Not again: American cruise passenger faces 12 years in prison for having stray bullets in bag"
  1. Marlin|

    Good grief, what is there big fear of ammo, is he going to throw it at someone? This is ridiculous.

  2. Bill|

    If they are that laissez-faire about where/how they keep their ammo, then we’re better off being rid of them. Responsible gun ownership 101 and they failed. Steep price to pay, but they probably will not do it again… 😎

  3. Ross G Copas|

    1! OK, 2 maybe, 3, it brings up the question. Were these bullets found or planted? I’m not a suspicious guy, and I don’t ascribe to conspiracy theories, but where there is money to be made, it begs the question.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They all admitted to having them. They were leftover from previous hunting trips

  4. Lou|

    If this doesn’t reinforce the world’s opinion on Americans as gun toting crazies, I don’t know what does. Sad for the families but c’mon!


    Yet another sample of arrogant Americans thinking they can do whatever they want when they travel to foreign countries. Carrying drugs/ammunition, driving down steps, defacing monuments, etc.

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