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Travel agents give tips to avoid being arrested abroad for items in your luggage



Travel agents give tips to avoid being arrested abroad for items in your luggage

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Travel agents say situations like that of an Oklahoma man arrested in Turks and Caicos for carrying ammunition in his luggage are more common than people may realize—and people should also pay attention to the medicine and clothes they pack while traveling abroad.  

Ryan Watson, an Edmond resident, is expected to enter a guilty plea in Turks and Caicos on Wednesday, after police there arrested him in April.  

It is illegal to possess ammunition in Turks and Caicos, and punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

Security officers at the airport in Turks and Caicos found ammunition in Watson’s luggage when he arrived for his return flight home in April.

Watson said he’d recently used the bag for hunting and didn’t realize the ammunition was inside.

“I feel so bad for that guy,” said Lia Vincent, owner of Oklahoma City-based travel agency Vincent Vacations. “It’s really unfortunate. It seems like such an extreme punishment.”

But Vincent says, ultimately, Watson’s situation was not very surprising to her.

“I can totally see how this could happen,” Vincent said.

She says that confidently, because she’s already seen it happen once.  

“We had a client with an issue before that traveled with ammunition to Mexico,” she said. “And Turks and Caicos does have a more strict policy on it than Mexico, but the people that went to Mexico still had to go to jail.”

Now, she gives all her clients the same warning:

“Always travel with travel luggage,” Vincent said. “And if you use something with like for hunting, just keep that in like a completely different closet. Have that not be intermixed with your travel stuff.”

And it’s more than just ammunition you should keep in mind when packing for an international trip.

She says, beyond ammunition and weapons, certain medications tend to catch the attention of authorities in foreign countries. Even foreign countries that may seem to have similar laws to the U.S.

Specifically, she says many people don’t realize most stimulants prescribed in the U.S. to treat ADHD are illegal to posses in many European countries.

“Even things like controlled substances like Adderall, for example,” she said. “There are a lot of countries where Adderall is illegal.”

She says even the clothes you wear could land you in handcuffs—if you don’t do your research beforehand.

“There’s certain countries you’re not supposed to wear camouflage and you can get in trouble for in camouflage in their country,” she said.

In fact, you don’t even have to travel internationally, to get in trouble for carrying something that is perfectly legal in the place you’re leaving.

“Medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma,” she said. “But it’s [illegal] in the federal law. So you can’t travel even on a domestic flight with marijuana.”

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