US Tourist Taken Into Custody at Turks and Caicos Airport

US Tourist Taken Into Custody at Turks and Caicos Airport

( – Millions of people travel to the Caribbean on vacation each year, seeking the sand and sun to relax. However, since November 2022, the Turks and Caicos has arrested a number of American tourists, leading the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the US State Department to issue a travel advisory. On Monday, May 13, the island nation detained yet another American, the eighth in the last 18 months.

Sharitta Grier, 45, of Orlando, arrived in the British territories when a routine search of her luggage allegedly turned up two rounds of ammunition. Authorities arrested her and her daughter on the spot at Turks and Caicos airport, though they let the younger woman go free. Prosecutors have now charged Grier with ammunition possession, a crime that could land her in prison on the island for up to 12 years.

In the past, authorities fined tourists caught with weapons or ammunition. After the government tightened its firearms laws, prohibiting civilians from possessing guns or ammunition, the penalties increased. Then, in February, a court order mandated that tourists would face potential prison time for the charges in addition to a fine. Since then, authorities have made a slew of arrests.

In April, officials also detained 40-year-old Ryan Watson and 30-year-old Tyler Wenrich for possessing ammunition. Wenrich, like Grier, allegedly had two bullets in his backpack. It’s unclear how much ammunition authorities accused Watson of holding on his person, but they haven’t allowed him to leave the island as he waits for his case to proceed. They’ve required him to report to the police station in Grace Bay twice a week. Both men are facing 12 years in prison.

In February, police on the island reportedly found ammo in Bryan Hagerich’s checked bag. They held him in the country’s local jail for eight nights, an experience that yielded “Some of the darkest, hardest times of my life,” he said in a statement.

The US State Department has cautioned travelers to “check their luggage” thoroughly and warned that the nation prohibits even checked weapons and ammunition. The NRA issued a news release the same day as Grier’s arrest, noting that “gun owners may want to take the Turks and Caicos Islands’ actions into account before risking a trip” there.

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