Published: May 18, 2013 10:46 PM EDT
Updated: May 19, 2013 12:40 AM EDT

SARASOTA, Fla. - It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime, but for one Southwest Florida tourist, his dream trip to the suddenly turned into a nightmare he won't soon forget.

Retired neurosurgeon, Horace Norrell, went to the islands of Turks and Caicos with his wife for a birthday getaway. After a relaxing week fishing and sightseeing, it was time to get on the plane and return home. But that's when he says the trouble began.

"I would have trouble today traveling from Sarasota to Tampa and going through TSA, It's been that traumatic," he said.

Norrell is no stranger to airports.

"We've traveled in Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia. We've been everywhere," he said. 

But on April 26th, Dr. Norrell and his wife Elizabeth were on their way home when he was arrested by the Turks and Caicos airport authorities after they allegedly found a 9 millimeter bullet in his suitcase.

"How can you fight that? It's their words against mine," he stated.

The couple had planned to stay eight days on the islands celebrating his 80th birthday. But the party was over and Norrell was now sitting in jail.

"There was no light in the cell. It was four steps across," he said. 

Norrell's says his story is troubling but not unique.

"Two Americans were arrested on back to back days. A 60-year old business woman was arrested on April 25th," said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. 

They came up with a 38 caliber bullet and [Cathy Sulledge-Davis] was put in jail the day before me. I took her cell in the jail," Norrell said.

The tourist spent three days locked up wondering how a bullet could have ended up in his bag.

"Everyone says you really need to watch your luggage but how could I have watched my luggage? I can't go with it when its on its way to inspection," he said.

He was finally released after calling on lawyers, friends, and politicians for help and posting $4,000 bail.

"We were targeted, there's no doubt about it."

Charges against both American tourists have been dropped after multiple requests from Senator Bill Nelson to investigate their arrests.

Dr. Norrell and his wife were scheduled to visit Greece and Turkey this September, but he says that trip has been cancelled and they'll be staying close to home for awhile.