Drug-smuggling suspects transferred to Lima prison
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid were arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.7m out of Peru
The translator of Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and Melissa Reid (unseen) explains a judge’s question at the justice court of Callao yesterday. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters
Two women arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.7 million out of Peru were taken to Lima’s Virgen de Fatima jail yesterday evening.
Michaella McCollum Connolly (20) from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and Melissa Reid (20) from Glasgow, face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if convicted of illegal drugs trafficking.
On Wednesday, during a public court appearance, the pair were formally charged with the promotion of drug trafficking and were refused bail.
The prosecutor’s office said it will seek a custodial sentence of between 8-15 years.
A Peru Prison Service spokesman confirmed yesterday that the two women had been transferred to Virgen de Fatima jail. “They were transferred at 11am [local time].”
He added: “The typical convict there is a woman convicted of robbery or drugs offences. No murderers are held there at the moment.”
The jail is about 20kms from Lima.
The women were arrested as they waited to board a flight to Madrid from Lima earlier this month.
They have told investigators they were being forced to bring back drugs to Europe by gangsters who had threatened them and their families.
Judge Dilo Huaman asked the women when they appeared in court on Wednesday why they had not asked for help at any point. Both women responding through their interpreter said that they had been threatened and were afraid to do so.
The public prosecutor said that their story was “incoherent”.
Their first two weeks since their arrest on suspicion of drugs trafficking were spent in the relative comfort of police cells before their hand-over to state prosecutors to be charged.