Glasgow & West Scotland

Peru drug mule Melissa Reid's father Billy in campaign plea

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Media captionBilly Reid tells of the anguish his daughter's imprisonment has had on the whole family

The father of a Scottish woman jailed in Peru after being caught with £1.5m of cocaine is helping a campaign to stop young people becoming drug mules.

Billy Reid's daughter Melissa, 21, and Michaella McCollum, 20, from Northern Ireland, were jailed for six years and eight months last year.

The pair were caught 11kg (24lb) of cocaine at Lima airport in August 2013.

Mr Reid tells of his family's anguish in the Foreign Office campaign: "Mules are fools, Don't be an ass".

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and charity Prisoners Abroad, said they were tackling the issue by "highlighting the consequences of the use, possession and smuggling of drugs in countries around the world".

'Horrendous' impact

Mr Reid features in a campaign video in which he describes how his daughter's imprisonment has affected her whole family.

"It's had a tremendous impact on us both emotionally and financially," he said.

"It's horrendous to see your daughter in handcuffs and the living conditions that she has to put up with. Melissa has spent her own 20th and 21st birthdays in prison in Peru.

"She missed the significant event of her only brother's wedding. Events such as Christmas are non-existent for us. There'll be no celebrations in our house, there'll be no Christmas tree until we get her back home."

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Image caption Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum are expected to be transferred to prisons in the UK

Reid, from Lenzie in East Dunbartonshire, and McCollum, from Dungannon in Northern Ireland, had originally protested their innocence after being caught with the drug haul.

They said they had been kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to smuggle food packets filled with cocaine from Peru to Ibiza - the Spanish island where they had been working.

The pair later admitted they had been paid by a criminal gang to carry the drug in their luggage.

Both women are expected to be transferred to prisons in the UK, where they will serve the remainder of their sentences.

'Never worth it'

At the launch of the campaign, the FCO said 717 British nationals had been arrested abroad for drug-related offences in the year 2013-2014.

The number of arrests rose last year with significant increases in Spain, Turkey and Australia.

James Duddridge, minister for consular affairs, said: When it comes to drugs our message is clear - don't take risks, it is never worth it. You only have one life so don't waste it.

"The consequences can be devastating for both you and your family and so it is important to be familiar with the local laws. Penalties and sentences vary considerably around the world and the FCO cannot interfere in another country's legal system. So stay safe and do not break the law."

Pauline Crowe, chief executive of Prisoners Abroad, said: "We urge people to consider the severe consequences of overseas imprisonment; from unsanitary conditions that breed disease and infection, to a severe shortage of food, clean water and the most basic of medical care.

"Overseas laws can be far harsher than in the UK and committing a drugs crime, whether intentionally or not, could result in a lengthy sentence in life-threatening conditions."

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