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    Locked up abroad: British women face jail time for drug smuggling in Peru

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    Originally published on August 14, 2013

    Two young British women arrested in Lima, Peru last week accused of attempting to smuggling more than 11 kilograms of cocaine are due to appear in a Peruvian court today. The two women, Melissa Reid, 19, from Scotland and Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Ireland were arrested by Peruvian airport security last week when it was found they were carrying cocaine drug packages hidden inside breakfast cereal packaging inside their luggage.

    The two women have protested their innocence, claiming they were the victims of a Colombian drug gang, which forced them at gunpoint to carry the packages. A lawyer for one of the women and a local priest who has visited the women in the jail they are locked up abroad in told media the women were befriended and groomed by one or two Colombian men. Later the Colombian men held the two women at gunpoint and threatened them into submission.

    The women travelled, allegedly under duress, with the Colombian gang from Peru to Morocco and returned to Peru where the gang ordered the women to carry Quakers oats food packages in their luggage. Inside the clumsy disguise were more than 11 kilograms of cocaine. The women have insisted to authorities that they were unaware the drugs were inside their bags, apparently believing the trade in Quakers oats was a more lucrative one. The women could receive sentences of 25 years non-parole if convicted.

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