Louisiana man held in Guatemala over bullets in luggage

NEW ORLEANS — Members of Congress say a Louisiana man has been detained in Guatemala since March after bullets were found in his luggage during an airport scan.

Sen. Bill Cassidy and Rep. Mike Johnson say Zachary Wilson of Shreveport was arrested following a church mission trip.

Johnson's office released a copy of a July letter to Gladys Marithza Ruiz de Vielman, then the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States. It says Wilson inadvertently left the bullets in the bag after a hunting trip and they were not detected as he exited the U.S. or entered Guatemala.

"Regrettably, according to information provided to me, when Mr. Wilson tried to leave Guatemala he was unaware of the consequences of attempting to return to the United States with bullets," Johnson's July 20 letter said.

Johnson, who represents northwest Louisiana, and Cassidy say Wilson has ulcerative colitis. Getting medication to him has been expensive for his family and he has little left from his last prescription, according to the statement from the two lawmakers.

Johnson and Cassidy said they met with current Ambassador Manuel Alfredo Espina Pinto on Tuesday.

"As a doctor, I went over his medical condition with the ambassador and explained his urgent medical needs," Cassidy, a Republican physician from Baton Rouge, said in the statement. "Ambassador Espina agreed to make an inquiry into the legal and medical aspects of Mr. Wilson's case and the interplay between the two."

The two Republicans said a meeting Tuesday with Espina was "productive." They expect an update next week.

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