1. ITV Report

What the Peru drug accused may face in prison

An inmate in a Peruvian prison. Photo: Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Two British women held on suspicion of trafficking cocaine could face "at least one to three years" in custody in Peru awaiting trial and up to 25 years in jail if they are convicted today, according to a Latin American legal expert.

British teenager Melissa Reid and her Irish friend Michaella McCollum Connolly are accused of hiding 12kg of cocaine in their luggage.

The haul, worth an estimated £1.5 million, was was found hidden inside food packages inside their luggage, according to police.

Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and Melissa Reid. Credit: Police handout

Speaking to ITV News, expert Stefano Lucatello said the women have "no chance" of being released on bail and that the UK Government will not intervene in the case.

According to Mr Lucatello, the women could face:

  • One to three years in custody
  • No chance of parole
  • Six to 25 years in prison and 15 to 25 years for aggravated crime
  • The Peruvian government like to make examples of traffickers
  • An one-sided system, with it being difficult to plead not guilty
  • The women are likely to face jail
  • The UK government will not intervene

British citizens imprisoned in Peru described the terrible conditions they endured in a film produced by the Foreign Office to deter potential drug mules.

In the film, made back in 2010, a number of drug traffickers inside Peru's Callao prison speak of their shock at the conditions.

Simon Burke spent two years in a Peruvian jail, maintaining his innocence over claims of drug smuggling. Mr Burke told ITV News that it took him almost three years to "prove his innocence" and that it did not surprise him that the women may face the same prospect.

He added that the prison had "massive overcrowding issues" and that inmates would have to buy their own daily supplies.

Pauline Crowe from Prisoners Abroad, a group that works with British prisoners held in foreign prisons, said they have seen an increasing number of Brits in jail in Peru, due to the changing nature of global drug trafficking routes.

Mrs Crowe said the most shocking event initially will be the overcrowded conditions in the prisons, where they will be held on remand for approximately a year.

Both women deny the allegations and claim they were forced to carry the bags by armed men.

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