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Time is running out for Northeast Ohio man detained in Thailand

Posted at 10:42 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 23:19:15-05

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Time is running short for 37-year-old Michael Jones of Solon, who's been detained in Thailand since Dec. 12 after Bangkok airport security officials claimed they found a single bullet in his duffel bag.

Tanya Durden-Jones said the ammunition charge against her son was dropped in January, but now police in Thailand continue to hold her son's passport.

Durden-Jones said without a passport, her son won't be able to renew his visitor's visa, a visa that is set expire on Feb. 29. She is fearful her son could be arrested once again for having an expired visa, delaying his return home even further.

“That’s not my son, he wouldn’t walk around with a bullet in his duffel bag," Durden-Jones said. "And the thing about it is that the duffel bag was purchased in Thailand. You’re keeping him there, but you will not extend his visa? Well then what’s going to happen? We’re going to fall into another scam, because without a visa you’ll get arrested.”

Durden-Jones said she's contacted federal lawmakers, and the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, but so far they've been unable to expedite her son's release.

It's been a 10-week ordeal that has cost the family more than $20,000 in attorney fees and other expenses.

"Right now I feel helpless because no one has really done anything, it’s been since December, my son is still there," Durden-Jones said. “Everyone who has children who travel abroad, just like it happened to my son, it could happen to some one else and their son.”

The University Heights mother pointed to two other cases in which U.S. citizens were detained in Thailand for allegedly having a single bullet found in their bags at the airport in Thailand.

Durden-Jones is demanding the federal government conduct an investigation into these three incidents, which took place over the past several months.

Meanwhile, the family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with growing expenses.

It's an ongoing situation that has left her with one lingering fear.

“I'm afraid that I’ll never see my son again. I hope that’s not the case, but if the United States doesn't get involved, what can I do?” Durden-Jone said. “I mean this is important, this is somebody's life, this is someone’s life.”

RELATED: Sen. Brown calls on attention from State Dept. after local man detained in Thailand following alleged 'bullet-in-bag' scheme