Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Peru drug mule strikes plea deal

Scot Melissa Reid is in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital, Lima
Scot Melissa Reid is in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital, Lima

One of two British women arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of Peru is prepared to plead guilty in exchange for a short sentence.

Scot Melissa Reid, 20, hopes a plea deal will see her get home to Glasgow as soon as possible, she told the Mail on Sunday.

The newspaper said her deal could get her sentence cut from up to 25 years to just six years and eight months. Her family believes she could be released in three years, the paper said.

In a telephone interview Miss Reid, who is in the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in the Peruvian capital, Lima, told the Mail she did not want to be in prison until she was 35.

"I am really scared about what I am about to do but I am also relieved that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "I'm now coming to terms with the fact I am so far away from my family. This is real.

"After a lot of thought and advice from my lawyer I am going to go in front of the judge and admit I was in possession of the drugs and that I went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain - I am willing to plead guilty to that.

"I did it under duress, I still maintain that, and I am glad I do not have to say I accepted money to do it."

Reid was stopped along with Michaella McCollum, 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, with 24lb (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 have 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.

Miss Reid's father William has previously said he believes the pair should plead guilty in order to get the legal process over quickly. He told the Mail on Sunday: "We are considering this as good a result as we could have hoped for. It seems strange to be happy about the prospect of your 20-year-old daughter being sentenced to six years and eight months in jail, but we are delighted. Crucially, we could start pushing for her to be transferred to Scotland."

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