US tourist jailed in Turks and Caicos over ammunition says he's enjoying FaceTime with his kids at home

A American tourist who will spend more than a decade behind bars in the Turks and Caicos Islands after ammunition was found in his luggage, said Monday that he tries to FaceTime with his children at home as much as possible in case he ends up in jail.

“I've been told that, you know, there's quite a bit of limited communication while you're in jail, and so I try to absorb as much of that as I can,” said Ryan Watson, a 40-year-old man. year-old father of two from Oklahoma, told CBS News.

Watson does free on bail, but he said he cannot leave the country and must report to a local police station twice a week. He faces a possible mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years behind bars.

Tourists are not allowed to possess weapons or ammunition in Turks and Caicos. They were allowed to pay a fine in the past, but a court order in February forced tourists to serve prison terms.

“It's something I deeply regret,” Watson said Monday. “I fully respect their laws and support what they are trying to accomplish with their gun laws, but I still pray that there is some consideration that there was no intention behind this and that this was 100% a mistake and a mistake. accident.”

Ryan Watson is seen during an interview with CBS News on April 29, 2024.
Ryan Watson is seen during an interview with CBS News on April 29, 2024.

CBS News


Watson said he had no intention of breaking the law when he visited the country with his wife earlier this month.

“I don't see how locking me up would help them in any way, you know, but yeah, that's unfortunately not my decision,” he told CBS News.

Watson was arrested on April 12 when four rounds of hunting ammunition were found in his carry-on luggage as he and his wife Valerie Watson tried to return home from a holiday in British soil. Valerie Watson has not been charged and returned to the couple's 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter in Oklahoma last week.

Watson previously told CBS News that the ammunition may have been left in his bag after he went hunting to Texas. The Transportation Security Administration acknowledged that its agents missed it when the Watsons went through security in Oklahoma City at the start of their trip to Turks and Caicos.

Watson is one of them several Americans who have been detained in the territory in recent months under similar conditions. Michael Grim of Indiana spent nearly six months in jail after pleading guilty to having ammunition in his checked bag.

“No clean running water. You're exposed to the environment 24/7,” he told CBS News. “Mosquitoes and tropical diseases are a real concern.”

Watson hopes the U.S. State Department will help find a solution for all Americans whose cases are pending in Turks and Caicos.

“It's tearing families apart right now,” he said, “and I've got two kids at home whose little hearts don't understand what's going on.”

Kris Van Cleave contributed to reporting.

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