Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Italian beauty queen arrested over alleged cocaine plot linked to Peru Two case

WERE THEY TARGETED BY SAME CARTEL?: Italian Samantha Scarlino
WERE THEY TARGETED BY SAME CARTEL?: Italian Samantha Scarlino

An Italian beauty queen arrested over an alleged international cocaine plot has been linked to the case of the Peru 2.

Peruvian police chief colonel Jorge Meija said stunning Samantha Scarlino was “recruited” by he same international drugs cartel that targeted Michaella McCollum from Dungannon and Scot Melissa Reid.

Mr Meija said he believes the 32-year-old actress and former Miss Italy finalist was “seduced” by drug lord’s promise of “tickets, luxury and power” — just like prison pals Michaella and Melissa.

Former beauty queen Scarlino was detained in a Milan hotel in November, accused of being part of a network that sent half a ton of cocaine into Europe from Peru.

According to media reports, the busty brunette was “nose-deep” in a 1,100 pound cocaine exchange when Italian police raided her luxurious hotel suite last November — just three months after McCollum, 20, and Reid, 21, were arrested at Lima airport.

TARGETED

Italian prosecutors believe the cocaine seized from Scarlino was destined for Italy, Belgium, Holland, Spain and France.

In an interview with a Peruvian newspaper last month, Colonel Meija said the model was more than likely targeted by the same kingpins as McCollum and Reid.

Referring to the pair, who were caught at Jorge Chavez Airport with over £1.5 million worth of cocaine in August, Mr Meija said: “The drug cartels are capturing beauty queens to transport cocaine and dirty money. And they (young women) are seduced by the charm of the tickets, luxury and power.”

He said traffickers purposely fill what he called the drugs

“grid” with sexy, “siliconed” women to try and throw off Peruvian anti-drugs police.

McCollum and Reid are currently serving a six year sentence for drug trafficking in the country’s notorious Virgen de Fatima prison, while Scarlino is being held in custody in Italy.

Mr Meija said the Peruvian and Italian authorities were working closely together over the drugs bust — which saw 21 other people arrested.

As well as being involved in a drug deal, Mr Meija said police believe Scarlino has also transported several deliveries of cash from Italy to Peru to be handed on to the drug cartels.

The pageant contestant, who is well known in her home region of Puglia as a TV showgirl and film actress, was one of 22 arrested in connection with the ring. The charges include drug trafficking and production.

In January, Sunday Life revealed how Peruvian police refused to believe Melissa and Michaella claims that they were kidnapped from the Spanish holiday isle of Ibiza before being forced to carry the drugs.

One detective from Peru’s Dirandro drugs unit told Sunday Life: “I don’t know how much they were offered, but they are lying and they definitely weren’t forced. They accepted money.”

The pair, who were sentenced to serve six years and eight months for drug trafficking in December, are due for release in 2020. However, plans to transfer Scottish drug mule Melissa Reid back to a prison in the UK are already said to be in motion.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has confirmed that as yet, they have not received any similar applications for Michaella McCollum.

Further reading

One Direction manager in prison visit to Peru drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly

Drugs smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly may escape Peru prison squalor to serve sentence in UK

Dungannon cocaine mule Michaella McCollum: I didn't know bullying ex-boyfriend was feeding drugs to me

Michaella McCollum: Video shows how Peru Two were nabbed smuggling £1.5 million cocaine haul 

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