Oklahoma Officials Meet With Turks And Caicos Government, Pushing For Release Of Detained Americans

Oklahoma Congressman Josh Brecheen and U.S. Senator from Oklahoma Markwayne Mullin returned to America on Tuesday after meeting with Turks and Caicos government officials asking for the release of five detained Americans, including one from Arcadia.

Tuesday, May 21st 2024, 8:22 am

By: News 9


Oklahoma Congressman Josh Brecheen and U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin returned to America on Tuesday morning after meeting with Turks and Caicos government officials about five Americans who are detained overseas right now.

The American tourists were taken into custody after all of them were allegedly found with ammunition inside their luggage at the country's airport.

They're now facing up to 12 years in prison each.

One of the tourists stuck in the country is Ryan Watson, a man from Arcadia traveling for a 40th birthday trip.

Watson and his wife Valerie were both arrested after four rounds of ammunition from a previous hunting trip were found inside one of their bags.

Valerie was released and returned home with their children, but Ryan remains overseas while waiting for his June court date.

In a released statement, Congressman Brecheen says:

“Our comments to Turks and Caicos officials were diplomatic, but also to the point. I reiterated that with Turks and Caicos’ economy being 65 percent based on tourism, and with 80 percent of that coming from the United States, it is in their interest to ensure justice prevails. We were emphatic that it would be unfathomable for five Americans, including Oklahoma’s own Ryan Watson, to face 12 years in prison for accidentally leaving a handful of shells in their luggage. I shared my position with the Attorney General and the Premier (lead legislative official) that a modification of their law seems to be the only way to reverse the message of fear their actions have instilled in U.S. tourists and that there must be just outcomes with the pending cases. With sentences for the five Americans to be announced in the days ahead, we shall see whether justice prevails. If not, America must respond appropriately, using every economic tool in our toolbox.” 

Earlier this month, Gov. Kevin Stitt joined Governors Josh Shapiro and Glenn Youngkin, of Pennsylvania and Virginia respectively, in writing this letter to the Governor of Turks and Caicos.

The letter reads in part, "[they] respectfully request that [he] reconsider the charges... and expedite their release back to their respective states and families as soon as possible."

RELATED: 'Expedite Their Release:' Governor Stitt Writes Letter On Behalf Of Arcadia Man Held In Turks And Caicos

The Turks and Caicos government have identified the four other detained Americans as Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas; Bryan Hagerich, of Pennsylvania; Tyler Scott Wenrich, 31, of Virginia; and Sharitta Shanise Grier, 45, of Orlando, Florida.

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