UK & World News
Peru Drugs Bust: Pair's 'Families Threatened'
Two women who say they were ordered at gunpoint to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru claim their families were threatened too.
Melissa Reid, 19, from Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, and Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Dungannon in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, are being held in Lima after 11kg (24.2lbs) of cocaine was found in their luggage.
The pair, who deny drug trafficking allegations, were arrested while trying to board a flight from the Peruvian capital to Spain last week.
They were due to appear in court later, but the hearing has been put back until next week because they have still not seen an interpreter.
They claim they were forced to carry the bags at gunpoint by Colombian gangsters and were unaware they contained narcotics.
Reid has insisted they were not smuggling for financial gain but to save their lives.
She told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "We were given no option. If we didn't do as we were told we would be dead. We were not smuggling for money, we were smuggling for our lives.
"We have no doubt they would have killed us both without hesitation if we didn't do as we were told.
"Ever since I was arrested I have played out what has happened in my mind over and over again, asking myself how could we have gotten out of it. But each time I think it wasn't even an option.
"We both had loaded guns put to our heads. They were more than prepared to use them. If we didn't do it we were told we would die."
The paper's US editor Chris Buckton told Sky News: "They also said that the safety of their families was in jeopardy as well, threats were made to them.
"Melissa was actually told details of her own family, she says, given names of her parents and also their friends. They made it clear they knew where their parents lived."
The women say they were befriended by a man in London, who put them in the hands of South Americans before they were taken to safe houses in Madrid, Ibiza and Majorca.
Reid was the first to be sent to Lima, on August 1, where she was joined by photography student and former nightclub hostess McCollum Connolly a day later.
They are said to be frustrated at the way the investigation is being carried out.
"They have cried themselves to sleep several times," said Mr Buckton.
Both are being held at the same jail but in separate cells, McCollum Connolly by herself and Reid in a shared cell where she will mark her 20th birthday on Friday.
"They are very resolute - determined to get themselves back to the UK ... but they are also very aware of what they could face," added Mr Buckton.
Relatives of both women have spoken of the anguish of their ordeal.
McCollum Connolly's lawyer said her family were confident she will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
The family are making arrangements to travel to Peru and are also arranging legal representation.
Reid's father William has said he believes his daughter was "groomed".
If convicted the women could face lengthy sentences in an overcrowded Peruvian prison where they will have to pay for everything including food and bedding.