Bipartisan Push for Americans’ Release

On Monday evening, Congressman Josh Brecheen (R-OK) returned from a bipartisan, bicameral congressional delegation (CODEL) to Turks and Caicos (TCI) where the members met with TCI government officials to discuss the five Americans being detained on the islands for inadvertently having ammunition in their luggage. If convicted, the Americans could each face a twelve-year minimum prison sentence. One of the Americans trapped is Ryan Tyler Watson, of Oklahoma.

Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) led the CODEL and also in attendance was Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Michael Cloud (R-TX), and Bob Good (R-VA).

Congressional delegation meeting in Turks and Caicos

“Our comments to Turks and Caicos officials were diplomatic, but also to the point,” said Rep. Brecheen. “I reiterated that with Turks and Caicos’ economy being 65 percent based on tourism, and with 80 percent of that coming from the United States, it is in their interest to ensure justice prevails. We were emphatic that it would be unfathomable for five Americans, including Oklahoma’s own Ryan Watson, to face 12 years in prison for accidentally leaving a handful of shells in their luggage. I shared my position with the Attorney General and the Premier (lead legislative official) that a modification of their law seems to be the only way to reverse the message of fear their actions have instilled in U.S. tourists and that there must be just outcomes with the pending cases. With sentences for the five Americans to be announced in the days ahead, we shall see whether justice prevails. If not, America must respond appropriately, using every economic tool in our toolbox.” 

Ryan Tyler Watson, of Oklahoma, traveled to Turks and Caicos with his wife and other couples on a 40th birthday trip. As Watson and his wife were leaving the island in April, TCI airport security reportedly found four rounds of ammunition which had been unknowingly left in a duffel bag from a previous deer hunting expedition. While Watson’s wife was released and allowed to return to Oklahoma, Ryan is awaiting his hearing in June.

The Watson Family of Oklahoma (GoFundMe Photo)

A GoFundMe account has been established to help the family, click here to reach that page.

The Turks and Caicos government has identified the four other detained Americans as: Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas; Bryan Hagerich, of Pennsylvania; Tyler Scott Wenrich, 31, of Virginia; and Sharitta Shanise Grier, 45, of Orlando, Florida.

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