Peru ‘drug mules’ Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum could serve jail sentences in UK
Wednesday 18 September 2013
Two women charged with drug trafficking in Peru could be allowed to return to serve their sentences in UK prisons if they plead guilty, prosecutors confirmed.
The Peruvian counter narcotics prosecutor Luis Mendoza suggested Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum, both 20, could return to Britain if they were able to qualify for “early termination” and receive a six to eight-year prison sentence.
The pair were stopped with cocaine worth £1.5m hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain in August. They have since claimed they were forced to carry the 11kg cargo by an armed gang which threatened them and their family members.
Ms Reid’s father, Billy Reid, has said his daughter was prepared to plead guilty to smuggling charges to “play the game” and avoid a lengthy sentence. Her mother, Debbie Reid, said: “We still believe she was coerced into it, but obviously now we realise she needs to plead guilty, just to get her home basically.”
Mr Mendoza said: “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 and McCollum are being held in the Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima where poorer inmates have reportedly been forced to “prostitute themselves” in return for food. But Reid has compared it to a “Brownie camp” and claimed she spent a whole day helping McCollum to dye her hair brown and take out her hair extensions while incarcerated.
Her mother Debbie Reid said earlier this week: “The conditions in the prison are quite basic, everything has to be paid for from toilet rolls to water so I think she is coming to realise she just wants to get home as quick as possible and this is the route she has to take to do that.”
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