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."
Melissa Reid and Michaela McCollum appeared in court in Lima, but it is unclear whether they have been charged, their lawyer said.
Two women accused of smuggling 12kg of cocaine into Peru could face up to three years in custody and a maximum of 25 years in prison.
A British woman accused of drug trafficking in Peru said she and her friend "were not smuggling for money, we were smuggling for our lives."