Florida woman arrested, detained in Turks and Caicos for ammo in luggage

An Orlando woman is the fifth person to be arrested in Turks and Caicos amid an ongoing problem in the island nation with American tourists getting arrested and detained, stuck abroad. 

Sharitta Grier, 45, was arrested Monday after officers with the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force found ammo in her luggage as she attempted to leave the country. 

"It was probably a mistake for this woman, too," said legal analyst Whitney Boan. 

Boan is a criminal justice attorney. She said it was possible that Grier had no prior knowledge that there was the ammo in her suitcase as she tried to leave. 

Boan explains that under Florida law, in order for someone to face a penalty for doing something like this, she says, "the difference is, under Florida law specifically, it’s a requirement in the prosecution that there be some proof of intent."

Grier joins Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, Bryan Hagerich of Pennsylvania, Tyler Wenrich of Virginia, and Michael Evans of Texas in being arrested for having ammo on her person as she stayed in the country.


"It’s extreme, and it’s problematic in terms of it doesn’t really seem to leave a lot of wiggle room for the idea that maybe somebody forgot something in their bag, which, as a criminal defense attorney, [it] happens all the time," said Boan. 

According to the U.S. Embassy in Nassau firearm and ammunition offenses have a mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years. 

Governors from three states are banding together to fight for the Americans' safe return as these tourists face that twelve-year minimum sentence. 

These detainees must make their case to the TCI government that they were arrested under "exceptional circumstances."

"Exceptional circumstance is a finding that the sentencing court has to make in order to not send them to the 12 years," said Boan. 

But, even that could take some time, she says. 

"The problem is in order to get to the place where we are talking about exceptional circumstances, it appears you either have to go to trial and be found guilty or enter a plea," Boan said. 

FOX 35 News has contacted Governor DeSantis's office to ask how he plans to address Grier's arrest and detainment in Turks and Caicos and has not yet heard back.