Virginia Father Avoids Lengthy Sentence, Fined for Accidental Ammo Possession in TURKS and CAICOS


Tyler Wenrich, a Virginia husband and father of a one-year-old boy, was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay a $9,000 fine for accidentally possessing ammunition in his luggage while visiting Turks and Caicos.

Wenrich faced a 12-year prison sentence on the islands after being detained in April for accidentally transporting two stray bullets in his luggage on a cruise liner while returning home from a wedding reception. “I hadn’t used the backpack in a while, but I had previously used it to carry supplies in my car and go to the shooting range.”

So I took it out for this trip, checked it, passed through TSA security, and then through port security in Miami. Wenrich previously told Fox News Digital that it took roughly a day and a half to sail to Grand Turk and then spend a day here. “We spent maybe 8 to 9 hours on the island. And then, when I was aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, they checked the bag, discovered one bullet, scanned the bag again, and found the second bullet.”

Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Good said in a statement on Thursday that he is “pleased” that Wenrich “has received a sentence of a fine and time served for the charges against him, and that he will be returning home this week to be reunited with his family, friends, and the community he serves.”

“This is the result we were seeking on my trip with congressional colleagues last week to the Turks & Caicos,” Good stated. “We met with government officials to plead for the release of all American inmates serving 12-year prison sentences for non-threatening and accidental actions. Tyler’s case involved two stray rounds of ammunition that had slipped into the liner of his rucksack. We thank everyone who worked and prayed on Tyler’s behalf.”

Five Americans have been detained on the islands since February for having ammunition, in accordance with a recent rule that forces both residents and tourists to serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.

On May 24, one of those Americans, Bryan Hagerich, was sentenced to 52 weeks suspended and told to pay a $6,700 fine. He returned home to Pennsylvania with his wife and two young children later that evening.

Wenrich, 31, Hagerich, 39, and the other Americans imprisoned for ammunition possession on the islands must prove that they were detained under extraordinary circumstances in order to receive a lesser sentence. Wenrich was detained on April 20 during a wedding reception in Turks and Caicos and pleaded guilty in court on Monday, when both prosecutors and his defense team gave oral arguments, he told Fox News Digital.

Wenrich had flown from Virginia to Florida, where he boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship before docking in Turks & Caicos.

Two stray gunshots were discovered in his backpack by cruise ship security as he prepared to board the ship for his return home. The cruise ship authorities then referred Wenrich to local police, which is when he “knew things were going sideways.”

The other Americans arrested in Turkey for having stray ammunition, including Sharitta Grier of Florida, Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, and Michael Lee Evans of Texas, were apprehended at airports on the islands.

“Everybody else has been at the airport, so that’s a lot different than their cases,” Wenrich explained about his own. “But the fee is pretty comparable. We were able to meet with them in person last week, go to lunch, and discuss those topics as well. But we have everyday communication with one another.”

Wenrich described the support he and his family have received from both friends and locals back home, as well as from other Americans in Turks and Caicos, as “phenomenal.” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro wrote a letter to Turks and Caicos Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam urging Watson, Hagerich, and Wenrich’s release.

“Like thousands of Americans each year, these individuals recently traveled to your beautiful territory for leisure,” the governors wrote in a single letter distributed to Fox News Digital. “They have all stated that they did not intend to bring ammunition into Turks and Caicos and that any ammunition accidentally left in their luggage was the result of lawful conduct in the United States.” We know that none of them were carrying guns.”

Several members of Congress have openly addressed the problem of Americans being imprisoned in Turks & Caicos for possessing ammunition. “The U.S. delegation raised five cases of US nationals currently before the courts, expressing concern for their well-being and seeking clarification on the legal process,” the TCI Governor’s Office stated on May 13. “To maintain the integrity of the legal process, the Governor confirmed it would not be appropriate to facilitate the delegation’s request to meet with the Chief Justice.”

The governor and premier also stated that “they cannot intervene or comment on ongoing legal cases before the courts,” the statement read. “They explained that the Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and/or ammunition and strict penalties are in place to serve and protect all who reside and visit the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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