UK & World News
Peru Drugs Accused May Be Jailed In UK
Two women charged with drug trafficking in Peru could return to the UK to serve their sentences if they plead guilty, prosecutors have confirmed.
Melissa Reid, 20, and Michaella McCollum, also 20, were stopped with cocaine worth £1.5m hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain in August.
Reid, from Glasgow, and McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, claimed they were forced to carry the 11kg (24lb) of drugs by an armed gang which threatened them and their family members.
Peruvian counter narcotics prosecutor Luis Mendoza suggested both women could plead guilty and qualify for a lighter sentence, which could be served in their home country.
He said: "The British citizens agree to the position of the Public Ministry, if they continue with their strategy they can go to trial.
"However, they are able to qualify for an early termination, which means they probably could get a sentence of six to eight years maximum.
"It's very possible that they may complete their sentence in the United Kingdom.
"There is an agreement in our country that those convicted can choose an early termination procedure, assuming their guilt and paying civil damages and agreeing to the judgement, meaning there is no kind of appeal."
Reid's family have said she is prepared to plead guilty to drug smuggling charges to "play the game" and avoid a longer sentence.
Her father, Billy Reid, told ITV that she is negotiating a plea in the hope she will be sentenced to less than seven years in jail, which would allow her to be transferred to the UK to serve her time.
Her mother, Debbie Reid, said she speaks to her daughter every second day over the phone for 10 minutes.
"We still believe she was coerced into it, but obviously now we realise she needs to plead guilty, just to get her home basically," she said.
Mr Reid said the plan is to work with the Foreign Office and other agencies to fast-track his daughter's return to the UK.
Reid and McCollum are being held in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital Lima.
They have 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.