Peru drug mules Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid 'forced' to carry cocaine worth £1.5m

20-year-olds face a maximum of 15 years in prison

Two women arrested on suspicion of attempting to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru have given detailed accounts of how they were allegedly forced to carry the drugs.

The Mail on Sunday carried what it said were full statements that Michaella McCollum, from Northern Ireland, and Scot Melissa Reid, had given to the Peruvian authorities.

Ms McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Ms Reid, from Glasgow, have been formally charged with the promotion of drug trafficking, and face a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted. It could be three years before they even face trial.

The 20-year-olds claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them warned that if they did not cooperate their family members would be targeted.

Peruvian police have said they found around 11kg (24lb) of cocaine hidden inside food packages as the women attempted to board a flight from Lima, the Peruvian capital to Madrid.

In the statements they give accounts of how they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to the Spanish island of Majorca.

They mention individuals allegedly involved in the plot called Jake, who had a London accent; Christian, from Liverpool; and three men named Hector, Enrique and Julio, a Peruvian.

They claim to have met for the first time in Majorca. Once arriving at the airport they say they were taken to an apartment where Ms Reid says they were "constantly threatened with guns".

The women's statements say that on 5 August in Lima they were given packages to carry.

Ms Reid said in her statement, "Back at the hotel, Michaella and me started to suspect we were being used to carry drugs back. Enrique called to give us instructions on how to pack the drugs inside our suitcases. He told us to wrap them with our clothes. I started to cry and told him I couldn't do it and he threatened us. He said his friends were constantly watching us and we would be killed if we didn't do exactly as he said."

Ms McCollum's statement read, "One bag had 16 packages, the other 18. They were wrapped in newspaper. While Enrique was speaking with us, we told him we did not want to go on with this. He told us we had to because his friends were waiting for us downstairs and they would be following us on our way to the airport."

Ms Reid said that in the end she felt relieved that the police found the drugs and took charge of everything.

The two women also spoke of their fear of getting caught on the day of their flight back to Spain.

The newspaper also publishes footage showing two women taking bags from a hotel and putting them into a taxi, while being minded by two men. The video was recorded on 6 August at around 6am, just hours before the pair were arrested at Lima airport.

It obtained the footage from a street camera run by Lima's neighbourhood watch service, and quotes a source for the city's prosecution team as saying, "This video could prove to be hugely important. We will examine it carefully and try to track the figures keeping an eye on the girls as they load up the taxi."

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA (afterschool club) vacancy in Newport

£40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style