UK & World News

  • 18 December 2013, 10:13

Peru Two Jailed For Six Years And Eight Months

Two women who tried to smuggle 1.5m of cocaine out of Peru have been sentenced to six years and eight months in jail

Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, from Glasgow, were sentenced in a court in the capital Lima this afternoon.

The pair, both 20, were arrested at Lima's airport in August carrying 11kg (24lb) of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage.

Police said they had been booked on to flights to Madrid and then to on to Majorca.

The women claimed they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang which threatened them and their family.

They told officers they had been working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and ordered to travel to Majorca.

They said they were then sent to Peru, where they were given the drugs to put in their luggage.

McCollum and Reid agreed to plead guilty to drug trafficking charges in September in the hope of getting a lighter sentence.

Anti-narcotics prosecutors rejected the pair's guilty pleas, saying the women had only admitted partial guilt for their actions.

They said the young women had made up the story about being kidnapped and threatened into attempting to smuggle the drugs out of Peru on August 6.

They wanted the women to give a full confession that reflected what they believed really happened.

The pair could have faced up to 15 years in jail if the judges had not believed the women's version of events. According to their lawyer, they have received the minimum sentence.

Sky News's Amanda Walker said: "This is the best sentence they could have hoped for."

A total of 248 "drug mules" were arrested at Lima's Jorge Chavez international airport in 2012, with nearly 1,600kg of illegal drugs confiscated.

The UN says Peru has overtaken Colombia as the world's largest grower of coca, the raw material of cocaine.

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