U.S. Citizen Criticizes Detention Experience in Turks and Caicos

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A U.S. citizen who was recently released after spending over 100 days in detention in Turks and Caicos due to the discovery of ammunition in his luggage has criticized statements referring to his experience as a “long vacation.”

Bryan Hagerich, 39, appeared on “Dan Abrams Live” on Monday and disputed claims made by the Turks and Caicos tourism board that his detainment was equivalent to an “extended vacation.”

“Being away from my family for three and a half months,” Hagerich stated, “is not what I would consider an extended vacation.”

Hagerich, a father of two from Pennsylvania, was given a 52-week suspended sentence and a $6,700 fine after pleading guilty to an ammunition possession charge last week. He spent eight days in jail before being released on bail.

While on vacation with his wife and children, stray hunting ammunition was found in Hagerich’s luggage in February.

A number of U.S. lawmakers, including Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, intervened to assist in freeing Hagerich and four other Americans facing charges in Turks and Caicos. A group of U.S. congressmen and senators went to Turks and Caicos to advocate on their behalf.

Recently, Turks and Caicos imposed harsher penalties for such offenses, with a minimum prison sentence of 12 years, but Hagerich and another American received relatively lenient sentences following media attention on their cases.

Hagerich suspected an “anti-American sentiment,” alleging that police officers informed him that his detention was motivated by financial and political reasons.

He also criticized the U.S. State Department’s response, claiming that they were unresponsive until the situation gained national media coverage.

In Turks and Caicos Islands, a British territory, the possession of firearms, weapons, or stray bullets is strictly prohibited. Local authorities rigorously enforce firearm and ammunition regulations.

Turks and Caicos stressed that travelers are responsible for ensuring their luggage is free of weapons and ammunition, as they are strictly prohibited without prior approval.

Even in the U.S., failing to properly secure and declare ammunition or firearms discovered by airport security can result in fines and criminal referrals.

Hagerich’s sentence has raised hope for the three remaining Americans detained in Turks and Caicos. The fifth individual facing charges was able to return to the U.S. due to terminal health issues.

Three other Americans, Ryan Watson, Michael Evans, and Sharitta Shinise Grier, are still awaiting their hearings.

The Turks and Caicos Islands experienced a boost in tourism in 2023, welcoming over 1.5 million air arrivals and cruise visitors combined, according to Breaking Travel News.

Damita Menezes
Damita Menezes
Digital Content Producer.

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