20/08/13 10:45 CET
| updated xx mn ago
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Two women from the UK have been held in Peru on suspicion of smuggling 11 kilograms of cocaine out of the country. Michaella McCollum from Belfast and Melissa Reid from near Glasgow are expected to be charged later.
The two women, both 20, were arrested at Lima airport two weeks ago as they tried to board a flight to Madrid.
Police say they found the drug hidden inside food packages in their luggage.
Peter Madden, lawyer for Michaella, said his client is innocent.
“Michaella McCollum did not owe any money to any drugs dealer. She was not involved in the drugs trade.”
Both women claim they were forced at gunpoint to carry the drugs by Colombian traffickers, who said they would harm their families if they refused.
Julio Vela, a customs officer at Lima airport, described the arrest:
“ They were nervous when they were approached, bewildered, they don’t speak Spanish so it was difficult for them to communicate.”
The British Embassy has been in contact with the Peruvian authorities and offered the young women consular assistance.
If convicted, they could receive lengthy prison sentences.
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