Northern Ireland

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid to be transferred from Peru

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid Image copyright AP/Reuters
Image caption Michaella McCollum (left) and Melissa Reid pleaded guilty to drug smuggling

Convicted drug smugglers Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid are to be transferred from Peru to jails in the UK, the BBC understands.

McCollum, from Dungannon, County Tyrone, and Reid, from Lenzie, in Scotland, were jailed in 2013.

McCollum's lawyer has received confirmation from the Irish government that the transfer request has been accepted by the Peruvian authorities.

It is thought an agreement in principle has been made to transfer Reid home.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Prison Service said they had completed their part of the process, and were waiting for the Peruvian authorities to action the transfer.

The pair admitted trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5m from Peru to Spain and were jailed for six years and eight months.

Their transfers could take several months to arrange.

In a statement, McCollum's lawyer Kevin Winters said: "Last week we received confirmation from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that the Peruvian authorities had accepted Michaella's prison transfer request and in turn passed this to the UK National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

"It is our understanding that NOMS are due to liaise with the various prison authorities in order to facilitate the next stage of the transfer process.

"We further understand that the relevant authorities in Peru and the UK have put a system in place in order to make sure that the transfer takes place as efficiently as possible.

"At this stage it is not clear as to how long that will take."

McCollum would most likely be transferred to Ash House Women's Prison at Hydebank Wood in south Belfast.

The women were caught with 11kg (24lb) of cocaine in their luggage in August 2013.

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

McCollum and Reid initially claimed they had been kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to carry the drugs, but later admitted the charges.

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