Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Peruvian police insist drug mules Michaella and Melissa did accept money

Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and friend Melissa Reid in the airport after they were arrested
Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and friend Melissa Reid in the airport after they were arrested
EVIDENCE: Peruvian police displaying the bags of cocaine that the girls carried
EVIDENCE: Peruvian police displaying the bags of cocaine that the girls carried

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.

THREATENED

“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.”

Emotional Michaella McCollum Connolly reveals life banged up abroad: 'One toilet for 100 women. Once it didn't flush for two weeks'

Michaella McCollum confesses: 'I took drugs in Ibiza' Michaella McCollum tells of despair at prospect of serving sentence in Peru

Michaella McCollum insists: 'I was forced into posing for pictures' 

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz