Peru May Allow 'Drug Mules' to Serve Their Sentences in Britain

Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 12:03 PM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Prosecutors say two women charged with drug trafficking in Peru could be allowed to return to serve their sentences in British prisons if they plead guilty, The Independent reported Wednesday.
Peruvian counter-narcotics prosecutor Luis Mendoza suggested that Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum, both 20, could return to Britain if they were able to qualify for “early termination” and receive a six to eight-year prison sentence.
Peruvian authorities stopped the pair carrying cocaine in their luggage worth more than $2 million while trying to board a flight to Spain in August. Reid and McCollum have since claimed they were forced to carry the cargo by an armed gang which threatened them and their family members.
Reid’s father Billy has said his daughter was prepared to plead guilty to smuggling charges to “play the game” and avoid a lengthy sentence. Her mother Debbie said: “We still believe she was coerced into it, but obviously now we realize she needs to plead guilty, just to get her home basically.”
“It’s very possible that they may complete their sentence in the United Kingdom,” Mendoza said. “There is an agreement in our country that those convicted can choose an early termination procedure, assuming their guilt and paying civil damages and agreeing to the judgment, meaning there is no kind of appeal.”
Reid and McCollum are being held in the Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima where poorer inmates have reportedly been forced to “prostitute themselves” in return for food. But Reid has compared it to a “Brownie camp” and claimed she spent a whole day helping McCollum fix her hair while incarcerated there.
Reid’s prison conditions are “quite basic,” her mother Debbie said this week. “Everything has to be paid for from toilet rolls to water, so I think she is coming to realize she just wants to get home as quick as possible and this is the route she has to take to do that.”

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