'Deserving Of Credit:' Ryan Watson Praises Oklahoma Leaders Following Release From Turks & Caicos

Senator Markwayne Mullin discusses more about the negotiations behind the scenes, in getting Ryan Watson home.

Wednesday, June 26th 2024, 6:00 pm

By: Storme Jones, News 9


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Now that Edmond’s Ryan Watson has returned home following a two-month long detainment in the Turks and Caicos, we are now learning more about the negotiations behind the scenes.

“All of the Watson family is just something special,” Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said.

The Senator said he was proud to go to bat for Ryan and his wife Valerie after five rounds of hunting ammunition were discovered in their luggage while trying to return to the United States. The Watsons said the bullets were inadvertently left in the suitcase after a hunting trip. Nonetheless, Ryan was facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 12 years behind bars in the island country.

“As far as working with Turks and Caicos, it was less than optimal,” Mullin said. “It was actually very difficult. In fact, sometimes I questioned even if they want Americans there.”

“As your premier, I want to make it clear, abundantly clear that the government is committed to taking comprehensive and decisive action to preserve the safety and security of our nation,” the country’s Premier Washington Misick said to applause in the Turks and Caicos legislative body in late May.

“When we first started talking to them, Turks and Caicos themselves was not responsive,” Mullin said. “London, who controls, or owns the territory, they were real receptive.”

Mullin led a bipartisan delegation to the island country with a point to get across.

“We started talking about that economic impact, whether we do a 'do not travel' to Turks and Caicos.” Mullin said. “It’s real serious because 75% of the homes in Turks and Caicos are owned by Americans. Over 90% of the tourist come from the United States. 80% of every bed that's slept in nightly there when it comes to resort and hotels is the United States and 75% of all the imported goods come from the United States.”

“Senator Mullin, Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), Governor Kevin Stitt [...] they are something that as Oklahoma’s we should be proud of,” Ryan Watson told News 9. “They for sure are deserving of the credit of bringing us home.”

“Gosh, I’m just so grateful that all three of them stepped in the way they did and other representatives in the state, they were a huge role in all of this taking off like it did and getting everyone home,” Valerie said. “None of it would’ve happened if they hadn’t had jumped on board and showed their support the way they did.”

Since Ryan has been home, Turks and Caicos has backed off the 12 year mandatory minimum in cases like his and has said the gun law does not apply to ammunition.

“With the changes have been made there, I would feel comfortable traveling now to Turks and Caicos,” Mullin said.

One American, Florida Grandmother Sharitta Grier, remains in Turks and Caicos on similar charges. Watson said he won’t rest until she is also released.

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