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Peru drug smugglers first claimed they were coerced

Michaela McCollum and Melissa Reid who had been working in Ibiza this summer, had previously claimed they were coerced into carrying the drugs by Colombian drug lords who kidnapped them at gunpoint.

Michaella McCollum, left, and Melissa Reid in court in August. Credit: Reuters

They said theywere forced to board a flight from Lima to Spain with 24lb of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage when they were arrested.

So far they have been held at the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima.

Their guilty pleas at the end of September came on the same day that the UN declared that Peru has now overtaken Colombia as the world's number one coca leaf producer, the raw material of cocaine.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, coca plantations in Peru covered 60,400 hectares last year.

Peru two 'very calm' as sentenced handed down

Michaela McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and co-accused Melissa Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, were sentenced to six years and eight months by Judge Pedro Miguel Puente Bardales in what was described as a "brief process".

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid leave a prison van to walk into court in Peru in September. Credit: Reuters

Judicial spokesman Daniel Vega said: "The women were very calm as the sentence was handed down at the court in the Sarita Colonia prison.

"They will now begin serving their sentence in the Santa Monica prison.

"It is still not clear whether they will be able to serve part of their sentence in the UK - the judge said that was not a decision for the court and they would have to reach an agreement with the prosecution."

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Women in Peru admitted £1.5m cocaine smuggling bid

At an earlier hearing, Melissa Reid, from Scotland, and Irish-born Michaella McCollum pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine out of Peru.

Today they were told by a Peruvian court they will both serve six years and eight months in jail.

Reid and McCollum were photographed by police with their luggage after their detention in Lima. Credit: REUTERS/Peruvian National Police/Handout
At the time of the women's arrest police released image of food packaging they said contained cocaine. Credit: REUTERS/Peruvian National Police/Handout

Peru drug pair each jailed for six years and eight months

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, who pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru in September, have both been jailed for six years and eight months.

Melissa Reid, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao. Credit: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao. Credit: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Hunting dolphins for shark bait 'barbaric'

Alison Wood from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group has condemned the practice of using dolphin meat as shark bait as "wasteful and barbaric".

Whale and Dolphin Conservation said the practice was barbaric. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

In an interview with ITV News, she said it was completely unnecessary to butcher the animals in this cruel, inhumane way.

"You can use fish guts, and all sorts of things to bait your hook, you don't need to use a sentient, intelligent animal like a dolphin. It is an awful waste. We are talking about a highly intelligent, social, feeling animal, and to see them hunted like this, is barbaric.

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Dolphin meat 'cheap alternative' to other shark bait

Slaughtering dolphins at sea is a cheaper alternative to other forms of bait for sharks, and the method of killing, harpooning, means that the dolphin can bleed for up to 15 minutes. The blood of the dolphin, then attracts sharks.

The blood from the harpooning of the dolphin attracts sharks. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

Dolphin hunting for shark bait 'an open secret' in Peru

The illegal slaughter of dolphins for use as bait to hunt sharks is "an open secret" within fishing communities across Peru, according to marine conservation group Mundo Azul.

Hundreds of small fishing boats use dolphins as shark bait. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

Working undercover with the group, British journalist Jim Wickens spent a week on board a shark fishing boat 100km off the coast of Peru, enduring rough seas and a near-death shipwreck incident in order to film the hunt.

Illegal slaughter of dolphins for shark bait filmed

For more than a decade scientists and environmentalists have been warning of a mass slaughter of dolphins around Peru.

Hundreds of fishing boats have been accused of killing the animals and using their fatty bodies as bait to catch sharks.

The killings, two or three per hunt, by hundreds of fishing boats around the country, add up each year to make it the biggest illegal slaughter of dolphins in the world, according to environmentalists.

ITV News has obtained footage that shows fishermen harpooning dolphins for bait. It's the first time this secret hunting has been filmed.

Science Editor Lawrence McGinty's report contains images you may find disturbing.

The footage, shot undercover by British journalist Jim Wickens, shows the hunting taking place, hundreds of miles off the coast of Peru.

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