Both men have expressed shock at being detained and claimed no knowledge of guns or ammunition. One is still in Thailand awaiting a court hearing in March while the other, a respected fire chief in Pennsylvania, was released and arrived home in the United States on Christmas Eve.

Two disturbing incidents just over three weeks apart at Suvarnabhumi Airport have seen two Americans visiting Thailand arrested by security at the international airport after a single bullet was found in their luggage. The latest American to be arrested is still stranded in Bangkok awaiting a court appearance after his family wired thousands of dollars to pay for a lawyer and bail him out while the first American arrested, a 30 years old veteran fire chief from Pennsylvania who is highly respected at home, was released and allowed to return to the United States for Christmas Eve but not before spending time in a Thai prison.

Michael Jones from Ohio (left and centre) seen with one of his children from a prior Christmas with his family. The 37-year-old had been celebrating his birthday in Thailand this month. He reportedly had a great holiday in the kingdom but was stunned on passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport to be arrested after a single bullet was found in his luggage. That was on the 16th of December. Just over 3-weeks earlier, on November 23rd, Michael Morra (inset right), a respected fire chief from Pennsylvania, in Thailand for business with General Electric, was arrested also at Suvarnabhumi Airport after a single bullet was found.

A 37-year-old American, on his first trip abroad, chose Thailand to celebrate his 37th birthday. After having enjoyed his holiday in the kingdom, he was heading home when disaster struck. Michael Jones is an African American man, the sole provider in his household, working full time and studying at the same time to build a better life for his family.

Arrested while passing through security at Suvarnabhumi Airport on the way home

At Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday the 16th December, he had checked in and was just passing through security at the airport when he was called aside.

The American was dumbfounded to hear from security officials at the airport that a single bullet had been discovered in his duffel bag and that consequently he was being detained.

Family in Ohio rescued him from prison 

The American man immediately reached out to his family in affluent University Heights, Ohio for help. He was fortunate to have the full support of his parents Tanya Durden-Jones and Mike jones to assist him from there.

The older couple wired thousands of dollars to Thailand to pay for a lawyer and bail for their son who was released from custody at the airport and later went on to stay in a Bangkok hotel.

American worried about his visa and immigration status as he awaits his court hearing in March

Mr Jones is now awaiting a court hearing said to be sometime in March but is concerned of falling further afoul of Thai authorities as his visa expires in January and he currently does not have possession of his passport.

Michael Jones and his family have stressed that there is no reason why there would have been a bullet in his luggage as he was not carrying any guns or ammunition.

They simply cannot comprehend the situation. The current predicament has left Mr Jones having to suspend his education activities in the United States while missing Christmas with his family and his 16-year-old son’s birthday.

Job is safe but he will not be paid

The American has been told by his employer that his job is safe but he will not be paid as he is not available for work.

His family also reports that his 16-year-old son, whose birthday is in January, is deeply disturbed by his father’s detention in Bangkok.

‘He had nothing, and when he tried to explain that to them, it’s like you really can’t challenge their authority there,’ his mother Durden-Jones has told TV Station News 5 in Cleveland, Ohio. ‘We understand what happened, we just don’t understand why.’

The family in Ohio have described the experience so far as a nightmare and are thankful that they have the ability to assist Michael.

They are working closely with the US Embassy. ‘If we did not do that, he can do 20 years for a single bullet in his duffel bag, so of course, that’s what we did, because they have our son.’

2nd American to be arrested with a single bullet in his luggage just 23 days apart at Suvarnabhumi Airport

What makes this story even more troubling is that this is not a once-off occurrence. On November 23rd, another American of impeccable character was also stopped at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Michael Morra, an employee of General Electric is also a respected fire chief in the United States in Burgettstown, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr Morra is a highly respected US citizen with over 30 years of public service.

Nearly identical experience for the middle age and respected fire chief in the United States

His story is nearly identical to that of Michael Jones who was stopped at Suvarnabhumi Airport just over 3 weeks later and given the same staggering news.

The middle-aged American was stopped by airport security and told there was also a single bullet in his suitcase.

Flabbergasted – no connection with firearms

Mr Morra was flabbergasted at this as he too had no connection with guns or firearms in the course of his trip to Thailand. He was in the kingdom in connection with work for General Electric.

Nevertheless, the American man not only found himself facing charges but also ended up spending time in an overcrowded and unhygienic Thai prison with his passport confiscated.

He was told he would face trial in mid February 2020.

High profile US politicians took an interest in the case

Through the intercession of American lawmakers including Representative Joshua Kail of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the US embassy was involved in the matter and Mr Morra was released from prison on bail to the safety of Bangkok hotel. 

This was followed by more US media coverage and the involvement of US Senator Pat Toomey, the junior senator from Pennsylvania as well as Representative Guy Reschenthaler from Pennsylvania who both made strong representations on behalf of the American.

He then subsequently appears to have been discharged from the ordeal altogether and allowed to travel home to the United States where he arrived on Christmas Eve in time to spend Christmas with his family.

Further reading:

US man found innocent after 13 months in Klong Prem prison held by immigration at airport

American on fraud charges in Thailand claims he was duped into acting as the scam’s ‘western face’