Cruise Passenger Could Face 12 Years in Prison After Arrest in Grand Turk

A cruise ship passenger was detained in Turks and Caicos and now faces a possible 12-year prison sentence. Tyler Scott Wenrich, 31, of Richmond, Virginia, was arrested by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force after bullets were found in his bag. The ammunition was discovered at a security checkpoint.

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(Photo courtesy of Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force)

Wenrich faces a mandatory 12 years in prison under the British overseas territory’s strict new firearm laws. He appeared in court last week and was remanded in custody pending a June 7 court hearing. It wasn’t disclosed what cruise ship he was on while visiting Grand Turk on the day of the arrest. 

Three American travelers charged in three months

A beach with chairs and palm trees near a cruise ship.

This incident isn’t isolated; it’s the second time this month. He joins Ryan Watson from Oklahoma, who has been charged and stuck in Turks and Caicos for over two weeks awaiting trial. Watson was arrested at the airport when attempting to fly home after a vacation.

He admitted he mistakenly left the ammo from a previous hunting trip in his bag, calling it a “bonehead mistake.” 

Watson flew to Turks and Caicos from Oklahoma City Will Rogers World Airport. Following a security review, the airport’s Transportation Security Administration admitted the ammo was not detected when Watson’s carry-on bag was scanned. 

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A third American, Bryan Hagerich, an ex-baseball pro from Pennsylvania, has been held in Turks and Caicos since February after he also left bullets in a bag. He has spent more than two months awaiting sentencing. In all three cases, it is thought each traveler left just the ammo and didn’t have a firearm. 

The spate of incidents prompted the U.S. State Department to post a reminder to travelers of the risk. Following a new firearms law, it updated its advisory last year: “We strongly encourage you to carefully check your luggage for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing for TCI. If you bring a firearm or ammunition into TCI, we will not be able to secure your release from custody.”

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