Friday, December 27, 2013

Perú: Two British Women, Both 20, Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Smuggling Cocaine

According to The Latin American Tribune, two young British women, both 20 years of age, were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison by a Peruvian court on Tuesday (December 24) for attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the Andean nation to Spain.
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum were arrested in August 2013 at Lima’s international airport when police found cocaine in their suitcases. The 11.5 kilos of cocaine were concealed in wrappings of commercial brands of oatmeal, quinoa and similar foods. The final destination of the drugs, which had a street value of over $2 million, was Spain.

The British press has been closely following the case as the women were previously reported missing in Spain by their families. In actuality, the two women were working at clubs in San Antonio, Ibiza. 

COMMENT: Reid and McCollum, from Scotland and Northern Ireland, originally claimed that they were innocent. The women initially said that they were held by drug smugglers they had met in Spain and forced to travel to Perú to smuggle drugs back to Europe. They said the smugglers threatened their lives and their families.

Yet, in September, the women changed their plea and admitted to drug smuggling, ostensibly to secure a lighter sentence, a strategy that worked. The admission helped them avoid a longer prison sentence of between eight to 15 years.

A court in the port city of Callao, within the district of the international airport, sentenced the women to six years and eight months in prison

Over a thousand foreigners are currently serving prison sentences in Perú for attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the country to North America and Europe.  Perú is the world’s biggest producer of cocaine.

This posting should underline the fact that for all those tempted to traffic in illegal drugs for "easy money," prison time in Perú, even for a day, is no day at the beach.