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Michaella McCollum put Peru drug dealer in frame after arrest

By Adam Cullen

Published 09/04/2016

Michaella McCollum and members of her family in the back of a taxi in Lima last week
Michaella McCollum and members of her family in the back of a taxi in Lima last week

Michaella McCollum inadvertently identified one of Peru's top drug dealers - nicknamed 'Uncle Charlie' - to the authorities in the South American country.

A State official said the former photography student had no choice but to admit she had visited the gangster's flat before she was caught smuggling drugs.

The Co Tyrone woman was spotted on CCTV calling to the smuggler's home in the affluent Miraflores district of Lima with her accomplice Melissa Reid.

"They had no choice, they were caught red-handed on CCTV," said the source.

"She could be in danger now. It is unlikely, but it is a possibility."

Trafficker Uncle Charlie is said to be a well-known connection for drug mules in the nation's capital.

"He is very, very famous here in Peru without a doubt. He is well-known on the drug scene," the source added.

Uncle Charlie supplied McCollum (23) with 5.8kg of cocaine cut with starch packaged in 16 food packets.

Reid (22), from Scotland, received 18 packages containing 5.7kg of the drug.

The source said: "He is not a very nice guy, that is for sure, but Michaella does not seem to mind too much. She is living in Miraflores now - not far from him."

McCollum has been living in the plush area on the Pacific coast since her release from prison last Thursday. She refused to speak to our reporters earlier this week before scrambling into a taxi.

The former dancer was freed under new legislation on early release that was introduced last year. In a concession that was not previously offered to drug mules, the two young women were allowed to work or study in exchange for days off their sentences.

A judicial process will now determine what, if any, conditions are attached to McCollum's parole. The only current stipulation is that she must sign on in a courthouse once a month.

Last night she was spotted out socialising with her mother and friends in a busy coffee shop.

The blonde could be seen texting on a smartphone while talking to Peruvian pals.

Clutching a designer handbag and dressed in black skinny jeans and a black top, the Dungannon woman looked polished in heavy make-up, ruby red lipstick and sparkling earings.

It has also emerged that the smuggler has paid the £2,000 she owes to the State for her stay behind bars in the country's notorious Ancon Dos prison.

Under Peruvian law convicted prisoners must pay towards the costs of their incarceration.

Although not due until the end of her sentence, both McCollum and Reid paid the fees last May.

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