Peru two moved to larger women’s prison
Women set to be moved to Ancón 2, a minimum security prison an hour north of Lima
Michaella McCollum is escorted from a truck to court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao, earlier this month. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters
Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid have been transferred from the minimum security wing of the Virgen de Fatima prison in Chorrillos, Lima, to Santa Monica, a larger women’s prison in the same district, according to reports.
Prosecutors last month rejected the guilty pleas of two women who were charged with attempting to smuggle €1.7 million worth of cocaine out of Peru.
Ms Reid and Ms McCollum had claimed they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members
Ms McCollum (20) from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and Ms Reid (20) from Glasgow are expected to be moved from Santa Monicato to Ancón 2, a minimum security prison in the desert, about an hour north of Lima.
Located on one of the main exit routes of the city, Santa Monica Women’s Prison is about 12 blocks from the smaller Virgen de Fatima prison where the women have been held since their first court appearance on August 21st.
Ms McCollum and Ms Reid were the only foreign prisoners being held at the Virgen de Fatima. Conditions in the prison are good by Peruvian standards.
The minimum security wing opens out onto a patio which has a small shop and public telephones.
Prisoners also have the option to buy their lunch or cook their own meals using the free rice provided by the institution. They were the only inmates of a large cell with approximately 43 beds.
Santa Monica is a larger women’s prison which suffers from overcrowding, it has a capacity of 450 inmates, however there are currently over 1,000 women being held there.
There are also approximately 50 young children; women inmates are allowed keep their young children with them until they reach three years of age.
Previously most foreign women were held in Santa Monica. This has changed in the past year and the majority of foreign prisoners have been transferred to Ancón 2.
Described as “a model prison for low security prisoners”, Ancón 2 is made up of four holding areas or “mini-prisons”. Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe, President of the prison service (INPE) considers it “a flag ship prison”.
It is one of the most modern prisons in the country and currently has 1,600 inmates.
Prisoners have the option to study pre or post university courses or take workshops such as cookery, hairdressing or beauty therapy.
The prison director César Bocanegra said the jail has 14 sociologists, six lawyers, six nurses and a nutritionist.
Ms McCollum and Ms Reid were arrested in August with over 11 kg of cocaine in their luggage at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport.
On September 24th Peruvian state prosecutor Juan Rosas rejected Ms McCollum and Ms Reid’s guilty plea saying, “the state prosecution considers that they have not fully accepted the charges.”
Ms McCollum and Ms Reid appeared before the court again on September 30th to clarify their guilty plea.
Following that, chief state prosecutor Juan Mendoza indicated that the judicial investigation could last until February, saying that he wanted further clarifications on whether the women were forced to do it or they belong to a gang.