UK drug smugglers jailed in Peru

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid have been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for charges of smuggling cocaine

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Two UK women caught trying to smuggle cocaine out of Peru have been jailed for six years and eight months each.

Michaella McCollum, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, of Lenzie, near Glasgow, both 20, admitted trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5m.

They were jailed for eight years each, but the sentences were reduced because of their guilty pleas.

The prison terms will run from their arrest on 6 August this year until 5 April 2020.


Given the fact most drugs smugglers or "mules" reportedly manage to avoid detection at the hundreds of airports and border crossings in South America, Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid can perhaps count themselves unlucky to have been caught.

That's not a view held by many here. It's known that the public prosecutor was seeking a much longer sentence than the women got, on account of their lack of co-operation, especially with details of who paid them to come to Peru and gave them the packages to smuggle out of the country.

With the Peruvian authorities anxious to empty their jails of the many hundreds of smugglers, McCollum and Reid may find themselves spending the later half of their sentences in UK jails.

The Superior Court of Justice in Lima also ordered them to pay a fine of 10,000 soles (£2,226) each.

Judicial spokesman Daniel Vega said: "The women were very calm as the sentence was handed down at the court in the Sarita Colonia prison."

They will now be sent to Santa Monica prison in Chorrillos, which has traditionally housed the majority of foreign women prisoners, according to the BBC's Mexico and Central America correspondent Will Grant.

Mr Vega said it was still "not clear" whether they will be able to serve part of their sentence in the UK.

He said: "The judge said that was not a decision for the court and they would have to reach an agreement with the prosecution."

Hidden cocaine

The women were caught with 11kg (24lb) of cocaine in their luggage.

They were stopped and searched at Lima's international airport where the cocaine was found hidden inside packages of food.

Police said they had been due to fly to Madrid, then on to Majorca.

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid The pair initially said they had been kidnapped at gunpoint
Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid Michaella McCollum (left) and Melissa Reid have also been fined £2,226

The women had reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

They claimed they were then sent to Peru and forced to carry the drugs in their luggage.

But after they admitted the offences in September, their sentencing was delayed because prosecutors were not satisfied with the details of their confessions.

McCollum, who had moved to Ibiza from Belfast, was reported missing in August.

Her family used social media to appeal for information on her whereabouts, but later discovered she was in Peru and had been arrested.

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