Accused 'Drug Mules' Expected to Plead Guilty in Peru

Tuesday, 24 Sep 2013 09:42 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Alleged “drug mule” Michaella McCollum Connolly is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in a Peruvian court to participating in a cocaine smuggling plot, according to the Guardian.
Separately, Melissa Reid — arrested last month with Connolly at Lima International Airport while carrying more than $2 million worth of cocaine in their luggage — also will plead guilty Tuesday to drug-trafficking charges in the case, Scotland’s Daily Record reports.

Reid’s attorney told the Daily Record that his client has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in which she will be formally sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. With inmates serving less than seven years entitled to reductions in sentence under Peruvian law, she could serve less than three years, the paper reported.

Thus far, it is unclear how long Connolly’s sentence will be.  

Connolly, a native of Dungannon, Northern Ireland, and Reid of Glasgow, Scotland, both 20, were arrested carrying the drugs while attempting to board a flight to Spain. They claimed to have been coerced into doing so by armed criminals who threatened to harm them and their family members.

Last week, The Independent newspaper reported that a Peruvian counter-narcotics prosecutor had held out the possibility that the women could serve their sentences in a British prison if they pleaded guilty. The prosecutor, Luis Mendoza, said it was “very possible” that the pair might complete their sentences in Britain.

Melissa Reid’s mother Debra said earlier this month that while she believes Connolly and her daughter were “definitely coerced” into carrying the drugs, a guilty plea would be better for Melissa than spending “the best years of your life from 20 to 35” in a Peruvian prison.     

In a subsequent interview from jail, Melissa Reid told the Daily Record that she is “relieved there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. She said she would admit that she “went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain.”

Melissa said she changed her plea to guilty because Peruvian officials had “done nothing” to verify her story about being forced into carrying drugs by a criminal gang.

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