Drugs mule Michaella McCollum in secret prison fling with Bosnian gangster
Drugs mule Michaella McCollum has hooked up with a Bosnian gangster linked to one of Europe's biggest child exploitation rackets after meeting him behind bars in Peru.
The cocaine smuggler (24) enjoyed secret prison trysts with criminal Anthony 'Javier' Hamidovic while both served time in Peru's notorious Ancon prison.
Their relationship continued long after she left Lima for Ireland.
The couple have made plans to meet up after he finishes his stretch behind bars later this year.
They have been swapping texts and snaps while Hamidovic has been locked up.
However, their plans to be reunited could run into trouble as police in Bosnia want to speak to the criminal over a worldwide pickpocketing network, which saw 500 child thieves put on the streets.
Security sources in the Bosnian town of Zenica said the 26-year-old will be arrested "on sight" if he returns, after seven of his family members were charged with child exploitation, human trafficking and child labour in 2015.
The men, including his father and two brothers, are accused of trafficking children from the Balkans to European tourist hotspots including Paris and Rome.
The children were told to steal up to €300 a day under threat of rape or beatings.
Hamidovic only avoided arrest because he was already behind bars for a drugs offence.
It was in jail in Peru where the criminal met McCollum, who had been caught trying to smuggle more than (€1.7m) of cocaine from Lima airport in 2013 with her Glaswegian pal Melissa Reid.
Last night a friend revealed that McCollum and Hamidovic "fell head over heels" after making secret trips to each others' cells.
"They became inseparable," their friend told the Sunday World.
"Javi has a thing for blondes and told inmates she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. They met after she was moved to Ancon II prison in 2014. He was already in there, housed in the male section.
"He was in the low-security area where it was easier for male and female criminals to mix with each other.
"They were nearly always together, and when they weren't they were texting on smuggled phones."
There is no suggestion that former model McCollum, who is tipped to appear on Celebrity Big Brother later this year, knew about her boyfriend's alleged connection to the pickpocketing ring or that she is connected in any way.
"Even when Michaella was released on probation last year, she went back every week to visit him behind bars," said the friend. "He was heartbroken when she left to go home but they have kept in touch and promised to meet up again."