Belfast Telegraph

Michaella McCollum: Dungannon drugs mule gets bags of love letters 'from prison creeps'

Drugs mule tells Sunday Life of inside story on prison life

By Patricia Devlin

Drugs mule Michaella McCollum has been inundated with bags of “creepy” prison mail from admiring jailbirds across the world, she told Sunday Life.

Since her arrest in August last year the convicted drug smuggler has received letters from prisoners in jails across Northern Ireland, the Republic and South America.

And the Dungannon woman revealed she has been asked to mail everything from autographed pictures, to items of clothing to banged up lotharios.

Some have even asked the one-time aspiring model to “start a new life” with them on her exit from prison.

“I have got so many letters from around the world, mostly from prisoners back home,” the 20-year-old dancer told Sunday Life from Peru’s Virgen de Fatima prison.

“I have letters from Mountjoy, Magilligan and the other one (Maghaberry).

“Mostly they are offering support, but there are some creepy ones. A few have asked me to send them an autographed picture of myself.


“I got this one last week. It’s from a Peruvian man in prison here. He said he wants to meet me and have me as his girlfriend. It is so creepy.”

The former model said she reads all the letters she receives, but only keeps those from family and friends.

“I have never replied to any of them — except for the ones where people are genuinely offering support or advice.”

Michaella and Scot Melissa Reid, who are both serving six year eight month prison sentences after being caught with £1.5m of cocaine at an airport in Lima last August, share their cell in Virgen de Fatima with 100 other women, all sleeping on bunk beds.

At the jail all prisoners are awoken at 6am with lockdown at 9pm.

As revealed in last week’s Sunday Life, she has been spending her days behind bars reading, doing aerobics classes and knitting.

In our interview the cocaine smuggler also revealed for the first time that she did take drugs while in Ibiza before she claims a crime gang forced her to travel to Peru to bring back a drugs consignment in her luggage.

Peruvian police have told this newspaper that they know she accepted money for the smuggling and do not believe her story that she was coerced.

The Peru 2 have been writing letters to Australian drug smuggler Bronwyn Atherton, currently serving a 14 year sentence in nearby Santa Monica de Chorrillos jail.

She too claimed to have been forced by a South American drugs cartel to transport cocaine through Jorge Chávez International Airport.

The 27-year-old, who is HIV positive, had previously offered her support to the pair — dubbed the Peru 2 — in an open letter to their parents.

The contact was made after Sunday Life interviewed her in the South American prison.

“Your daughters will need your money to survive here to get everything they need to live as nothing is free. You even have to pay to work here which is compulsory if you want freedom,” she wrote in October.


“Ninety eight per cent of the people are fake-ass bitches who will steal, lie, cheat and stab you in the back with gossip, but there are a few good ones.”

Ex-photography student Michaella and Glasgow born Reid are expected to be moved to the notorious prison unit after being sentenced last month.

Michaella told Sunday Life: “She (Kay) seems nice and it’s good to know we will have her if we go there.”

In one letter sent to sister Samantha when she was first moved to Fatima prison, months before she spoke exclusively to Sunday Life, Michaella revealed how she was coping with prison life then.

“I think I am as happy as I can be in this situation,” Michaella wrote.

“I'm doing really good now, any time I feel down or bad or have negative thoughts, I quickly move them to one side, allowing only good to pass.”

The letters, published in Closer magazine after last week’s Sunday Life exclusive, also reveal how the pair spent Halloween eating “heart” in a prison festival.

“It lasted all day, then we had a feast and ate heart. That's their tradition. It was actually nice.”

NO payment was made to Michaella McCollum nor any associate for this story

Prisoners stole my clothes

Michella McCollum was forced to borrow clothing from fellow drugs mule Melissa Reid, after her clothes were stolen by other prisoners.

The 20-year-old revealed to Sunday Life that just days after being placed in custody inside Peru’s anti-drugs police unit, she herself was a victim of crime.

The Peru 2 were being held in a 14 woman cell ahead of appearing in court for the first time, after being arrested on suspicion of cocaine smuggling.

“The police said we could have our bags back for a wee bit to get some of our stuff.

“So I went through mine and took clothes to change into.

“I came back ten minutes later and some of my stuff was missing. You could see someone went through it. The suitcase had been left in the cell with everyone else, but I didn’t think anyone would steal from it.

“It was just stupid stuff, bikinis, play suits. Apparently some of the women that were being moved to Santa Monica took them. They left the next morning.”

The women were held in the Dirandro unit for a number of weeks before being moved to Virgen de Fatima prison.

They were held in a cell with two other women before being moved to a larger room, which houses up to 100 other woman.

Sleazy guard asked for a kiss

Michaella McCollum has told how she screamed in fear after a Peruvian prison guard propositioned her — inside one of Lima’s top courts.

The Dungannon girl said she was forced to call out for pal Melissa Reid after a guard began touching her face.

It happened in a holding cell of the Superior Court of Callao, also known as ‘Justice Palace’, during a court appearance last year.

Speaking to Sunday Life from Virgen de Fatima prison, Michaella said: “We were sharing an underground cell with rapists and murderers.

“There was this one man there who had raped a four year-old.

“We must have been there all day and you had to use the toilet in front of everyone.”

She added: “I’d been choking for a cigarette in there — I hadn’t had one for two days.

“There was a guard in the corner and I went over to him and said, ‘I will give you 20 soles for a cigarette and a light’.

“He did, but then he started touching my face and asking for a kiss.

“I screamed for Melissa so he would stop.”


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