Peru drug suspects face 18 years

Peruvian prosecutors have warned that a British and an Irish woman charged with trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of the country could face up to 18 years in jail if they are convicted.

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Girl's father: Peru beach photos 'part of a set-up'

William Reid seen arriving in Lima, Peru, last Friday. Credit: Reuters

Photographs have been published of the two women accused of smuggling cocaine from Peru which show the pair apparently drinking beer on beach before they were arrested.

The girls say they were told to take photos of themselves at tourist spots to make it look like they were friends travelling together, the Daily Mail said.

Melissa Reid's father, William Reid, who flew to Peru to be with his daughter, agreed the photos were ambiguous, but told the newspaper: "I want to know who took that picture of them on their balcony. Was it taken by a third person or by a minder, and who was drinking the beer?

"That wasn't Melissa's beer in the photo because I have never in my entire life seen her drink beer. She drinks a lot of water and, if she is drinking, it would be vodka. I believe the trip to the beach was part of a set-up."

Lawyer to discuss Peru drugs case with police

A solicitor for a woman accused of trying to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine said he intends to discuss her case with police in Peru today.

Human rights lawyer Peter Madden plans to go to a police holding centre in Lima where Michaella McCollum Connolly and co-accused Melissa Reid are being detained.

In a statement released last night through his Belfast-based firm, Mr Madden said he would not be commenting on the case until after the meeting.

Peru suspect: 'I thought they were going to kill me'

William Reid, father of Melissa Reid, arrives at Lima airport in Peru Credit: PA

Melissa Reid has told her father about the night she claims Colombian gangsters forced her at gunpoint to smuggle drugs from Peru.

The Daily Mail reported that Melissa claims was bundled into a flat by Colombian gangsters, who put a gun to her head.

She said: "I could feel the metal against my temple.

"I thought they were going to kill me. They said they knew all about me and my family. I was so scared they were going to hurt them if I didn’t do as I was told.

" I didn’t know they wanted me to take drugs or money or guns at that point."

Melissa says she first met fellow suspect Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Northern Ireland, in one of the gangsters’ dingy hideaways in Palma.

They were kept captive in a flat, she said, then flown to Lima separately.

Father and daughter have 'tearful reunion' in Peru

The father of one of two British women arrested in Peru for alleged drug smuggling has had a "tearful reunion" with his daughter, according to the Daily Mail.

The paper said William Reid broke down when he saw handcuffs on his 20-year-old daughter Melissa when they met face-to-face for the first time since her 6 August arrest for attempting to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine out of Peru.

Miss Reid, who turns 20 today, maintains her innocence and claims she was forced into smuggling after she was kidnapped from Ibiza and held at gunpoint.


Father of drug suspect arrives in Peru

William Reid, 53, has arrived in Lima to see his daughter. Credit: Reuters

The father of Melissa Reid, who is being held on suspicison of drug smuggling, has arrived in Peru.

William Reid, 53, has flown from Glasgow to Lima to visit his daughter who, along with Michaella McCollum Connolly, could face up to eight years in prison if found guilty of drug smuggling.

Peru drugs suspect will 'plead not guilty if charged'

Michaella McCollum Connolly, who has been arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling, will plead not guilty if she is charged, her lawyer has said.

Speaking as he left Belfast for Lima, Peter Madden said:"She is saying she has done nothing wrong, that she is innocent and that as far as any offences are concerned, if she is charged she will be denying it."

Belfast Solicitor Peter Madden speaks to the media as he arrives at George Best Belfast City Airport on his way to Peru Credit: Paul Faith/PA Wire/

The lawyer said his client "sounded well" considering she was in "a difficult position for a young girl to be in."

Mr Madden, who is due to arrive in Lima tomorrow, did also warn that legal proceedings could be lengthy.

Ms McCollum Connolly as well as Melissa Reid, from Scotland, are accused of attempting to smuggle £1.5million of cocaine out of Peru.

Read: Northern Ireland lawyer to fly to Peru

Northern Ireland lawyer to fly to Peru

One of Northern Ireland's best known lawyers is due to fly to Peru later today for a preliminary court hearing for the two women being held over drug smuggling allegations.

Peter Madden is expected to spend a week in Lima where 20-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly is being held along with Scottish teen Melissa Reid.

The women claim they were victims of a violent gang who coerced them into carrying £1.5 million worth of cocaine.

Michaella McCollum Connolly is facing 8 years in jail in Peru. Credit: Facebook

Police are waiting for a translator before officially questioning them, which is expected to happen in the next few days.

A former colleague of murdered human rights solicitor Pat Finucane, Mr Madden has represented families of those killed by the army on Bloody Sunday, and was involved in the case of three Irish republicans arrested in Colombia in 2001 for allegedly training members of the FARC.

The three were freed and returned to Ireland in 2005.

Peru duo 'not typical smugglers'

John Collins, an expert in international drug control from the think tank LSE Ideas says neither Michaella McCollum Connolly nor Melissa Reid fit the typical profile for drugs smugglers.

Instead, he says, drug mules are more likely to be people from poorer backgrounds who the smugglers "can afford to have drop off the map."

Typically, he says, smugglers have "poor access to social services, they get caught up in the drugs trade and get exploited by people within the cartels."

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