Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting BWT to 80360 or you can email us »
Peru pair 'forced to smuggle drugs'
Two women caught with £1.5 million worth of cocaine in Peru have told how they had loaded guns held to their heads and were told to smuggle the drugs or die, it has been reported.
Melissa Reid, 19, from Scotland, and Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Northern Ireland claim they were forced into trafficking by a Cockney criminal, who plucked them from the streets of Ibiza and had a dossier on their families.
The pair, who are being held at the maximum security Dirandro Police Station in the Peruvian capital said they feared they would be killed if they failed to carry out the demands.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror from the police holding centre in Lima, Ms Reid told how the gang threatened their families and added that the pair had never even met before being sent to Peru by gangsters.
She said: "We were given no option. If we didn't do as we were told we would be dead. We were not smuggling for money, we were smuggling for our lives. We have no doubt they would have killed us both without hesitation if we didn't do as we were told.
"Ever since I was arrested I have played out what has happened in my mind over and over again asking myself how could we have gotten out of it. But each time I think it wasn't even an option. We both had loaded guns put to our heads. They were more than prepared to use them. If we didn't do it we were told we would die."
The women told the paper they were robbed of their passports and mobile phones and followed by members of a violent drugs cartel on board the flights from Spain to Peru. Once in South America they were ordered to carry the cocaine hidden inside food packets.
They said the first time they met was after being kidnapped and taken to the cartel's safe house in Majorca. Ms Reid, who marks her 20th birthday on Friday, was the first to be sent to Lima on August 1. She was joined by photography student and former nightclub hostess Ms McCollum Connolly a day later. She said they were "coached" on what to say if they were stopped and told to claim they were "best friends" who were travelling together.
The families of both girls have spoken of their anguish at their ordeal. In a statement released through their solicitor the McCollum family who are based in Dungannon, Co Tyrone said they were confident Michaella was not guilty of any wrongdoing.
The women are due to appear at a preliminary court hearing in Lima, but have yet to be formally questioned by Peruvian police. It is understood officers have not been supplied with an English-speaking translator.