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Oklahoma airport under TSA microscope after Turks and Caicos jails dad found with ammo


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TSA is investigating an Oklahoma airport after security apparently failed to notice ammunition in a traveler's backpack that led him to be arrested in Turks and Ciacos.

Ryan and Valerie Watson, the parents of two young children, were flying home from their island vacation, where they were celebrating a friend's 40th birthday, on April 12 when they were arrested at the airport because security found ammunition in Ryan's carry-on bag.

"We are aware of an incident in Turks and Caicos involving a U.S. citizen and refer you to the State Department and law enforcement authorities in Turks and Caicos for more information," the administration said. "TSA is conducting a review at OKC [Will Rogers World Airport], which was the originating airport."

The State Department did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.

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Ryan and Valerie "had their lives turned upside down when they tried to return home, as local airport security found four rounds of ammunition unknowingly left in a duff[le]bag from a deer hunting trip," a description on the family's GoFundMe page states.

"It was not noticed by TSA when leaving America. Now, they are facing a legal system that is unfamiliar, daunting, and expensive that operates differently than the American Justice System," the description continues.

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Valerie Watson was released from jail in Turks and Caicos on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force confirmed Ryan Watson's arrest, saying the 40-year-old Oklahoma resident appeared in magistrate court, when he was charged with one count of ammunition possession. 

He was also granted $15,000 bail and has since been released under the condition that he does not travel outside the islands without the court's permission, he surrenders his passport, he reports to the Grace Bay Police Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he resides at a specific address.

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The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas issued a travel alert in September 2023 telling Americans not to bring ammunition to the islands.

"TCI authorities strictly enforce all firearms related laws," the alert states. "The penalty for traveling to TCI with a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon is a minimum custodial sentence of twelve (12) years."

The embassy further stated that Americans should "carefully check" their luggage "for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing for TCI."

TSA recommends travelers begin packing each trip with a totally empty bag or suitcase to ensure they do not face consequences for having items deemed illegal in foreign airports. Since November 2022, eight Americans have faced "firearms prosecution" for "inadvertently having ammunition in their luggage," according to the Second Amendment Foundation.

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