Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Peru drug arrests: Probe Ibiza connection in Michaella case, UK and Spain are urged

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly

British and Spanish police have been called on to investigate the case of alleged drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly.

The call was made by the father of Melissa Reid who is awaiting trial alongside Tyrone woman McCollum Connolly on charges of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of Peru.

The women, both 20, were stopped with 11kg of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain last month.

The pair claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members.

They reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

McCollum Connolly's family in Dungannon believed she was working in Ibiza for the summer after travelling there this year.

Instead, she and Reid were arrested in Lima as they tried to leave Peru to fly back to Spain.

Reid's father, William, told ITV's Daybreak: "The Peru element of the story I can follow and understand. It's the Ibiza end that I would like more clarification on.

"I'm still not entirely sure how she left Ibiza to go to wherever it was so I would like more help from the Spanish authorities, and in fact the British police." Both women are being held at the notorious Virgen de Fatima jail in Lima.

Mr Reid, who visited the pair last week, said they were doing "as well as can be expected".

He went on: "The current prison conditions are OK and not as bad as we were led to believe prior to going over to Peru.

"They're not eight to a cell etc or sleeping in corridors (which) we were told was possible.

"But if they're moved to another prison that could change."

Mr Reid said they should plead guilty so the case is dealt with sooner, adding: "Pleading guilty means that your case at least would come to court and you'd be given a sentence potentially within six months. If you continue down the not guilty route it can take two years to three years before your case comes to court."

BACKGROUND

Dungannon woman Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are accused of attempting to smuggle 11kg of cocaine, worth more than £1.5m. The pair face at least two years in the tough Virgen de Fatima prison while they await trial, and could face 15 years in jail if found guilty. The women, both 20, claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gamg who threatened their families. Michaella's Tyrone family believed she was working in Ibiza, where she travelled to at the start of the summer, when they lost contact with her, unaware she had gone to Peru at the time of her disappearance.

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