Peruvian police say they still don’t believe the Peru 2’s claims they were forced into trafficking cocaine, telling Sunday Life: “We know they accepted money.”
The claim was made by one of Lima’s top drug detectives who headed the investigation into the cocaine smugglers, who added: “They didn’t stand a chance.”
The detective, who refused to go on the record because of the “headache” the women’s case has caused authorities there, told me: “I don’t know how much they were offered, but they are lying and they definitely weren’t forced. They accepted money.
“Sometimes people do get forced — but it is usually after already having successfully trafficked drugs.
“People get tempted by gangs to smuggle drugs for as little as $1,000.
“If they do get out of the country with drugs, the gang take the drugs and tell them to go back a second time.
“They are threatened, their families are threatened and they end up having no choice but to return, for no money, for bigger amounts of drugs.”
The senior detective, who has been working in the drugs unit in the South American country for over 20 years, said cocaine smuggling has skyrocketed in the airport over the last number of years.
He claimed the problem was so bad, over-worked teams inside Jorge Chavez Airport — where the main drugs unit is based — were working around the clock to keep on top of cases.
At least one drug smuggler is caught every day in the Lima airport, despite high security and sniffer dogs placed as standard at check in desks.
“What we see increasingly now is that people are targeting young people after check in, saying that they bought something at duty free and weren’t allowed to carry it. They ask, do you want it? The person accepts, not realising that it is full of drugs.
“It could be a statue, perfume, alcohol or boxes of cigarette — but it’s stashed with drugs.”
He added: “We accept that these young women are in a way, victims of a bigger network.
“What we need to do is get the message across that drug smuggling isn’t easy here and you will go to jail.”
The top cop, who spoke to Sunday Life as the pair were sentenced to six years and eight months for being caught with £1.5 million worth of cocaine, said the authorities “couldn’t wait” to bring an end to the case.
“This case has caused a huge headache for the government here. They are not used to dealing with so much publicity.
“They wanted it over and done with so no more press could intrude or question the laws here.
“With the sentencing done that is everyone off the case, and the case is closed.
“It is a relief to everyone involved.”