American sentenced to time served, fined $9,000 for bringing ammo to Turks and Caicos

Tyler Wenrich, of Virginia, was arrested in late April.

May 28, 2024, 1:43 PM

A Virginia man was sentenced to time served and fined $9,000 for bringing ammunition to Turks and Caicos, avoiding a potential 12-year sentence under the islands' strict gun laws.

Tyler Wenrich, from Richmond, traveled to Grand Turk on a cruise ship for a bachelor party in late April when ammunition was found in his possession while going through a security checkpoint, police said.

The 911 operator and emergency medical technician has remained on the island since being arrested and pleaded guilty on May 21 to two counts of possession of ammunition, for two 9 mm rounds.

Tyler Wenrich, who was arrested in Turks and Caicos for illegally bringing ammunition to the islands, stands with his wife Jeriann Wenrich after being sentenced to time served and a $9,000 fine on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.
ABC News

A judge handed down a three-week prison sentence Tuesday morning -- which amounted to time served when factoring in the time Wenrich spent in jail following his arrest.

The 31-year-old father can return home once he pays a $9,000 fine.

He and his wife, who was there for the sentencing, plan to fly home on Thursday, Wenrich told ABC News.

"I feel very, just relieved," he said following the sentencing. "A weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and my wife."

Wenrich has been separated from his 18-month-old son since his arrest.

"I'm glad I get to go home and be with my son again," he said.

Tyler Scott Wenrich, 31, of Virginia, was charged with possession of ammunition in Turks and Caicos when trying to return to his cruise ship in April.
Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force

Wenrich had gone shooting at a gun range with friends and said he forgot he was carrying the ammunition.

The penalty for traveling to Turks and Caicos with a firearm, ammunition or other weapon can result in a minimum sentence of 12 years in prison. However, the judge has the discretion to issue a more lenient sentence if the court finds there are exceptional circumstances.

"I have a lot of fear and anxiety as to what's going to happen and I'm hoping that the judge finds some compassion and leniency in the situation that I'm in," Wenrich told ABC News earlier this month.

Justice Davidson Baptiste "cited exceptional circumstances" in Wenrich's case and "highlighted that enforcing the mandatory minimum would have been arbitrary and disproportionate, and would not serve the public interest," the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands said in a statement following the sentencing.

"The Turks and Caicos Islands Government remains committed to enforcing its laws to ensure the safety and security of all residents and visitors," the statement continued. "This case underscores the importance of vigilance and adherence to local regulations by all visitors."

Wenrich is one of five Americans charged under the firearms ordinance for having ammunition in the past five months.

Bryan Hagerich -- a Pennsylvania father who pleaded guilty to possessing 20 rounds of ammunition -- was sentenced on Friday to a suspended 52-week sentence with a fine of $6,700, which he promptly paid and has since returned to the U.S.

Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, Michael Lee Evans of Texas and Sharitta Grier of Florida have also been charged after ammunition was found in their luggage.

Each of the defendants said they did not intentionally pack the ammunition. Evans was able to leave the island due to a medical condition while out on bail and is awaiting sentencing.

Watson and Grier are also out on bail but aren't allowed to leave Turks and Caicos as their cases proceed.

ABC News' Matt Rivers, Wilkie Arthur and Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.