Belfast Telegraph

'Missing' woman held in drugs probe

A nightclub hostess who sparked a massive online campaign after she disappeared from holiday island Ibiza has turned up in police custody in Peru on suspicion of drug trafficking.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Belfast, was arrested in Lima on Tuesday along with Melissa Reid, 19, from East Dunbartonshire, while trying to board a flight to Madrid.

The National Police of Peru said they found more than 11 kilos of cocaine - thought to be worth around £1.5 million (1.7 million euro) - hidden in food in the luggage of the two women. They were stopped at the international airport's Air Europa counter.

Ms McCollum Connolly was at the centre of a Facebook and online social media appeal, backed by Irish sports stars, desperately seeking information about her whereabouts over the past two weeks. Her distraught family said they had not heard anything from her in 12 days.

Diplomats have confirmed they are helping an Irish woman and a British woman arrested in Peru over alleged drug trafficking offences.

Ms McCollum Connolly, a photography student, had gone to San Antonio in Ibiza in June on a working holiday. She was looking for work as a dancer and nightclub hostess. Her family said she usually phoned home every two to three days and they became concerned when she had fallen out of contact.

Ms McCollum Connolly and Ms Reid were detained at the Jorge Chavez International airport as they tried to board a flight to Madrid, which was travelling on to Palma Mallorca, police in Peru said.

Ms Reid's family is reported to be in shock after learning about her arrest. Her father William, 66, spoke to the Sunday Mail from their family home near Lenzie, and said: "We don't know anything, we haven't been told anything. We don't have any new information. We are not in a position to elaborate. We're in the position where we are just trying to come to terms with it."

According to her profile on Facebook, Ms Reid is a former pupil of Lenzie Academy.

She worked as a sales adviser at Scottish and Southern Energy in Glasgow between June 2010 and July 2011 and had also worked for clothes store Next. Ms Reid flew to Ibiza in June and had posted numerous pictures of herself with friends on the island. Her last post was on July 21.

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