Peru Drugs Bust: Pair Appear In Police Video

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Sky News

A video has emerged of a British and an Irish woman speaking to police shortly after they were arrested on suspicion of cocaine-smuggling in Peru.

The footage shows the two women answering questions shortly after they were held at an airport near the capital, Lima, last week.

Melissa Reid, 19, and Michaela McCollum, 20, protested their innocence after police found 11kg (24.2lbs) of cocaine worth £1.5 million pounds in their luggage.

The police footage also shows an officer examining a row of food bags, in which the drug was allegedly hidden.

Police have accused the two of acting as “drug mules” to carry the contraband back to Europe.

An official weighs and tests the drugs allegedly carried by the two women
An official weighs and tests the drugs allegedly carried by the two women

Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, told officers: “I was forced to take these bags in my luggage.”

Asked if she knew the bags contained drugs, Reid replied: “I did not know that.”

The pair both confirmed they had travelled to the South American country from Spain.

They had apparently spent several weeks living in Ibiza, where Belfast-born McCollum had reportedly been looking for work as a nightclub dancer and hostess.

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum

Reid had posted dozens of Facebook photos, however her profile had not been updated since late July.

The apparent disappearance had sparked an online campaign, backed by a number of Irish sports stars, to establish McCollum’s whereabouts.

Peruvian police said the two had been held and their luggage examined after a sniffer dog detected drugs at the Air Europa check-in counter.

They were believed to have been planning to travel to Madrid and then to the Mediterranean island of Majorca.

Reid was allegedly carrying 18 foil packets containing 5.78kg of cocaine while McCollum was accused of carrying 5.81kg of the drug in 16 bags.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm the arrest of a British national in Peru on August 7. We are providing consular assistance.”

A woman lays out coca leaves in San Francisco, a town in the Peruvian region of Ayacucho
Coca leaf is grown in remote areas of Peru for cocaine production

It is understood that McCollum is travelling on an Irish passport.

Drug experts say Peru has almost certainly supplanted Colombia as the world’s leading cocaine-producing country and the trade is used to fund a violent leftist insurgency.

:: On Monday, two bodies of suspected Shining Path rebel leaders were taken to Lima for DNA testing, after the pair died in a shootout with security forces a day earlier.

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