Tyler Wenrich to be sentenced in Turks and Caicos for ammo charges


(Truth Voices) — The second of five Americans who were detained and charged with carrying ammunition in their luggage faces sentencing Tuesday.

Tyler Wenrich, 31, of Virginia, has been in Turks and Caicos since he was detained on April 20 for carrying stray hunting ammo in his luggage.

His father Michael Wenrich told Truth Voices that Tyler Wenrich spent three days in jail and was moved to a prison, spending a total of 14 days behind bars. The 31-year-old was released on bond and has been with his father on the island since awaiting sentencing.

Tyler Wenrich said the bullets were “unknowingly left in a duffel bag from a deer hunting trip” that went unnoticed by airport authorities when they left the United States.

The 31-year-old could face a minimum 12-year prison sentence. Michael Wenrich said he’s “anxious” as his son awaits sentencing.

Strict firearm and ammunition laws

In Turks and Caicos Islands — a British territory — no firearms, weapons, or stray bullets are allowed on the islands. Local authorities strictly enforce firearms and ammunition-related laws.

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Turks and Caicos said in a statement that it is “the travelers’ responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of” weapons and ammunition, which is “strictly forbidden” without prior permission.

Even within the U.S., improperly secured and undeclared ammunition or firearms found by airport security can result in a fine and criminal referral.

Bryan Hagerich, 39, was the first American detained and charged for similar circumstances. Hagerich was the first to face sentencing and was handed a 52-week suspended sentence and a $6,700 fine.

Hagerich was able to return home to the U.S. late last week.

‘A very simple, honest mistake’

The judge in Hagerich’s case found “exceptional circumstances” and said a 12-year jail sentence would be arbitrary, according to spokesperson Jonathan Franks.

Hagerich’s sentence provides hope for the three other Americans who remain in Turks and Caicos. The fifth person who had been charged was able to return to the U.S., citing terminal health issues.

Hagerich was on vacation with his wife and their two young children when stray hunting ammunition was discovered in his luggage in February. He was detained by authorities and spent eight days in prison before posting bail.

Ryan Watson, Michael Evans and Sharitta Shinise Grier were also detained and charged with carrying ammunition in Turks and Caicos.

Ryan Watson

Watson, 40, and his wife, Valerie, visited the islands for a birthday trip in early April. But on April 12, as they were about to head home, they were stopped by airport security and escorted to the police station.

Airport authorities claimed to have found ammunition in Ryan Watson’s carry-on luggage. He called it a “bonehead mistake” and one that was accidental. Locals helped him post bail and he said he appreciates the people he’s met, but he aims to return home.

Watson’s next court date is set for June 7.

Michael Evans

Evans, 72, was also detained and charged after authorities said they found bullets in his luggage in December. He was released on a $20,000 bond and was allowed to return to the States for medical reasons, as he has terminal cancer.

He pleaded guilty to illegal possession of ammunition and faces the same minimum sentence of 12 years in prison. His sentencing has been scheduled for June.

Sharitta Shinise Grier

Grier, 45, of Orlando, was arrested May 13 and charged with one count of possession of ammunition, according to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. She was traveling with her daughters. Grier was visiting her daughters for Mother’s Day the day she was detained.

Grier appeared in the Magistrate Court last week and was remanded, according to police. A sufficiency hearing is set for July 5.

Devan Markham
Devan Markham
Digital Reporter. Previously, Markham worked as a freelance associate producer for entertainment networks Netflix and MTV, where she worked on hit reality TV shows Love is Blind and Siesta Key. Originally from Chicago, Markham graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, with a degree in Digital Journalism.

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