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Pennsylvania dad facing Turks and Caicos prison time for ammo charge says law has ‘unintended consequences’

Bryan Hagerich, a Pennsylvania father of two facing a minimum 12-year prison sentence in Turks and Caicos after airport security found ammunition in his luggage in February, says the island law meant to deter illegal firearm trafficking has had “unintended consequences.” 

Hagerich, 39, appeared in court in Turks and Caicos on Friday, when a judge said he must stay on the islands for another three weeks until his sentencing, at which point he will learn if he must serve the minimum sentence of 12 years for carrying ammo in his bag in the airport or if his case can be adjudicated.

“It was found in my checked luggage after a random search, and my family was essentially just whisked away without even really having the chance to say goodbye or explain what was going on, so we were completely unaware of what was to follow,” Hagerich, who was coming home from a family vacation with his wife and kids when he was arrested in February, told “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday.

The TSA requires ammunition to be in a secure case in checked luggage, but Turks and Caicos laws are different.

TURKS AND CAICOS COURT HEARING FOR AMERICAN ARRESTED WITH AMMO IN BAG COULD SET NEW PRECEDENT

Bryan Hagerich, a 39-year-old former pro baseball star and father of two from Pennsylvania, appeared in court in Turks and Caicos on Friday, when a judge said he must stay on the islands for another three weeks until his sentencing. (Family handout)

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau currently has a travel alert that says “[f]irearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons are not permitted in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI),” adding that “TCI authorities strictly enforce all firearms-and-ammunition-related laws.”

“The penalty for traveling to TCI with a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon can result in a minimum custodial sentence of twelve (12) years,” the embassy states in the alert. “If you bring a firearm or ammunition into TCI, even inadvertently, we will not be able to secure your release from custody. You are subject to TCI laws and must follow local law enforcement procedures.”

AMERICANS ARRESTED IN TURKS AND CAICOS FACE 12 YEARS IN PRISON OVER ‘INNOCENT MISTAKE’: ‘NEVER DAWNED ON US’

Bryan Hagerich and his family on the beach

Bryan Hagerich was arrested in Turks and Caicos in February for having stray ammunition in his luggage at the airport on his way home from a family vacation. (Family handout)

“It’s a very strict law. They’re trying to combat violence…gun trafficking, et ceterra, which I have the utmost respect for, but when you have a law that takes essentially a one-size-fits all approach, there are unintended consequences,” Hagerich said. “We’re not a threat to the island. We’re not a threat to the people. We’re good, loving human beings that simply made a mistake.”

Three other Americans are awaiting their own sentencing for the same issue. One of those Americans, 31-year-old Tyler Wenrich — a father of a 1-year-old son from Virginia — was allowed to go home last week after posting bail, his father told Fox News Digital. Ryan Watson, 40, of Oklahoma, a father of two who was most recently arrested for unknowingly having ammo in his bag on April 12, remains on the island. Both men previously told Fox News Digital that they had the ammo in their bags from prior hunting trips.

OKLAHOMA AIRPORT UNDER TSA MICROSCOPE AFTER TURKS AND CAICOS JAILS DAD FOUND WITH AMMO

Tyler Wenrich, Bryan Hagerich and Ryan Watson with their families

Four Americans are currently awaiting their sentencings in Turks and Caicos for carrying ammunition in their bags inside an island airport. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Beaches Turks & Caicos/ Facebook/ family handouts)

Michael Lee Evans, 72, pleaded guilty to having ammunition in his bag on April 24, according to local news outlet the Turks & Caicos Sun. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 18.

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An additional four Americans who were detained over the firearm/ammo law since it was enacted last year have also had their cases adjudicated and instead were ordered to pay fines. One American received an eight-month prison sentence.

“I’m a human. … I made a very honest mistake,” Hagrich, who has been detained since February, said. “I had no intention — I had no knowledge that ammunition was in my checked luggage.”

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