Michaella Connolly and Melissa Reid jailed in Peru for trafficking cocaine

British and Irish women who tried to smuggle 11kg of drug sentenced to nearly seven years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 4:37pm


A Peruvian court has sentenced an Irish and a British woman to six years and eight months prison each for trafficking cocaine, in a case that triggered a media firestorm in their homelands.

Irisih woman Michaella Connolly and Brit Melissa Reid, both 20, were arrested in August at Lima international airport as they were trying to leave for Spain.

The pair pleaded guilty in September to attempting to smuggle out of Peru just over 11kg of cocaine with an estimated value of US$2.3 million. The cocaine was found stashed in packages of cereal in their belongings.

The young women had initially denied guilt, claiming they had been coerced into smuggling by a shady international cartel after being kidnapped on the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza.

But they later changed their story, saying they "knew they were going to transport drugs, and that they regret having participated in such an act," according to a court press release.

The Callao court that heard their case said their sentence on Tuesday had been reduced from eight years to six years and eight months under a plea bargain with prosecutors. They were also fined 10,000 soles (HK$27,700) and ordered to perform 280 days of community service.

Callao prosecutors had insisted that as part of the plea bargain the women explain the smuggling scheme in detail, naming others in the organisation.

"Prosecutors do not believe that they alone took a plane from Spain to Peru, bought drugs and then tried to go back to Europe. They have got to give details about the members of the group they worked with," prosecutor Juan Mendoza said in September after they pleaded guilty.

After their arrest, the women told British reporters they had been kidnapped by a drug cartel, taken to Peru and forced to transport drugs. Peruvian authorities did not believe the story.

Their case had triggered sensational headlines in their homelands, as they had initially been reported missing in Spain in July.

A major media and online campaign was launched to find the two young women, amid fears that they might have been kidnapped, until news emerged of their arrest in Peru.

Since 2012, 248 foreigners laden with drugs have been arrested at Lima's international airport. Some 50 foreign women - mostly Europeans - are serving time in a newly-built prison in Peru for attempting to transport drugs.

Liquid Heroin sown into pups

Spanish police have captured a Colombian vet who tried to smuggle liquid heroin by surgically implanting plastic bags of it into live Rottweiler and Labrador puppies. The fugitive vet, identified only as Andres L. E., was tracked down in the northwestern Spanish city of Lugo after more than eight years on the run. He is accused of operating on the dogs at his farm in the Colombian city of Medellin. Colombian police raided his farm in January 2005. “They seized three kilograms of liquid heroin inside six puppies. The drug was extracted from the dogs, which had been destined for the United States,” the Spanish police said. The puppies each had one or two plastic bags of about 400 grams of liquid heroin in their abdomens, Medellin police chief Ruben Carillo said at the time. “We had never had a similar case for hiding drugs,” he said.

Agence France-Presse