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American Tyler Wenrich sentenced to time served and $9K fine after arrest on illegal ammunition charge in Turks and Caicos

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American Tyler Wenrich was sentenced to three weeks in jail and fined Tuesday after he had pleaded guilty earlier this month to possession of ammunition while traveling to Turks and Caicos.

The Virginia resident was fined $9,000, Kimo Tynes, the director of communications for the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, said in a news statement. Since he had already served three weeks in jail, the court recognized it as time served so his prison sentence is complete, the release said.

The 31-year-old American faced as much as a 12-year prison sentence. But the Hon. Justice Davidson Baptiste cited exceptional circumstances in Wenrich’s case and said, “Enforcing the mandatory minimum would have been arbitrary and disproportionate, and would not serve the public interest.”

Two other Americans have pleaded guilty and are out on bail while they await sentencing while a third has pleaded guilty, been sentenced and has returned back to the US.

In recent months, all were arrested and accused of bringing in various amounts of ammunition to the 40-island chain southeast of the Bahamas.

Bringing firearms or ammunition into Turks and Caicos without prior permission from police is “strictly forbidden,” according to a statement from its government.

In the Turks and Caicos, possession of firearms or ammunition carries a minimum 12-year sentence, though the law allows reduced sentences under “exceptional circumstances.”

Even though the territory doesn’t manufacture firearms or ammunition, the number of firearms finding their way to the islands has increased, Misick said. Meanwhile, the United States has more guns than people.

On Friday, American Bryan Hagerich of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty and received a 52-week sentence suspended for one year and a $6,700 fine, his representatives said. He returned to the United States after paying the fine.

In addition to Hagerich and Wenrich, one other American – Michael Lee Evans – pleaded guilty to possession of ammunition while traveling in Turks and Caicos, according to the territory’s government.

A fifth American, Sharitta Shinese Grier, was arrested last week and is awaiting trial after making bail, according to Tynes​​​​, with the Office of the Premier and Public Policy.

The mandatory minimum 12-year sentence for possession of firearms or ammunition is in place to protect those on the islands, and judges may use their discretion to impose reduced sentences, Turks and Caicos Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam said.

US citizens are not being targeted, Turks and Caicos officials said. Of the 195 people sentenced for firearm-related offenses over the past six years, only seven were US citizens, Misick said Thursday. No US citizen has received the 12-year sentence to date.

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