American Tourist Sentenced in Turks and Caicos Over Stray Ammo in Luggage

Turks & Caicos Properties LTD/Premiere Estates via AP

A Pennsylvania father of two has finally been sentenced in Turks and Caicos after being detained on the island for over three months following stray ammo that was found in his luggage. 


Related: American Tourist Faces 12 Years in Turks and Caicos Prison After 4 Rounds of Hunting Ammo Found in Bag

Bryan Hagerich was given a suspended 52-month sentence and ordered to pay a fine of $6,500, but his spokesperson says he will be allowed to return home soon. 

He is one of five Americans awaiting release over similar charges. The group has actually been living together in the same condo as they await their sentencing. The other Americans are Ryan Watson, 40, from Oklahoma; Sharitta Grier, 45, from Florida; Tyler Wenrich, 31, of Virginia; and Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas.

Wenrich is the father of a one-year-old baby boy and admits his mistake, but believes that the systems in place should do better to prevent something like this:

"Everybody does make mistakes," he said. "And that's what this was for all of us. And we just have to be cognizant of what we're traveling with. And I think some of our systems need to be in cahoots to have a better fail-safe in place just in case this happens."

He is currently facing a minimum 12-year sentence unless his legal team can convince the judge that he was arrested under extraordinary circumstances.


Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin wrote a letter to the governor of Turks and Caicos, Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, asking her to release the Americans:

"This makes no sense whatsoever. This punishment does not fit the crime," Stitt, a Republican, told Fox News Digital. "These people were leaving the country. There was no intent. They weren't trying to harm anybody. They weren't using guns. Let me make sure everybody knows: there were no guns."

In their letter, they highlighted the tourism on the island as an attraction for many Americans:

"Like thousands of Americans each year, these individuals traveled to your beautiful territory recently for leisure," the governors wrote in a joint letter shared with Fox News Digital. "They have all maintained that they did not intend to bring ammunition into Turks and Caicos, and any ammunition unknowingly left in their luggage was the result of lawful conduct in the United States. We understand that none of them were carrying firearms."

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania made a compelling argument that until the resolution of these cases, the U.S. should put a no-travel order on the islands which would even stop cruise ships from docking there. It would also prevent people from purchasing traveler’s insurance: 


"Their economy is overwhelmingly based on tourism, well over 70%. And of the tourists, 86% are American," Reschenthaler said. "So, all we have to do is issue a do-not-travel [order] and overnight crash their economy. And hopefully we can get the Americans released, and we would force Turks and Caicos to change this law."

Wenrich still does not have a date set for his sentencing. His family, like the others, languishes in the waiting. The light sentencing of Hagerich gives some hope, but it might not be enough to cause Americans to feel safe to travel there again. If the Turks and Caicos want American tourism, they must reconsider this harsh law and resolve these cases quickly.


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