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If their stories prove to be true, the two British women allegedly found attempting to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine into Peru last week were targeted by an organised crime gang, and forced into carrying the packages.

Drug mules Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly claim they had loaded guns held to their heads and were told to traffic the white powder or they would be killed. They were robbed of their passports and mobiles and followed by members of a violent drugs cartel on board flights from Ibiza to Peru.

Reid, 19, from Scotland, and Connolly, 20, from Northern Ireland, say they were recruited while working on the Spanish party island – prompting police to issue a warning to other travellers heading to Ibiza this summer. One officer told the Daily Mirror that it’s not an isolated incident: “In the past six months we have seen young girls being targeted in Spain and sent to Peru to take drugs back.“

From what we know from recent cases the mules are often shown a great time while they are out there [Spain] and many of them are actually supplied drugs for free. It’s only after a few weeks it’s explained to them in no uncertain terms that nothing is for free. They are then manipulated, threatened and abused into doing these runs. It is a line of investigation we are looking in to with Reid and Connolly.”

The two women were found with 11kg of cocaine as they tried to board a plane at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima heading to Majorca, from where police believe they were trying to move the shipment to Majorca via Madrid.

They are due to appear at a preliminary court hearing in Lima. They face lengthy prison sentences if found guilty – and could be waiting three years just for the case to go to trial. Connolly said: “I didn’t realise drugs were so big here but it happens all the time.

The police have said they see girls like us all the time. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we’re not going home soon and are doing jail time here. We’ll take responsibility for what was found on us but we didn’t do it of our free will, we didn’t have a choice.”  They’re not the first alleged drug smugglers to claim innocence. Here, TNT looks at other famous cases.

Schapelle Corby

The 36-year-old hit the headlines last week after rumours circulated she would be released from jail – something Bali prison officials strongly denied. Having been holed up in Gusti Ngurah Wiratna for the past nine years, Corby was jailed after being found with 4.2kg of cannabis in her bodyboard bag at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar in 2004.

The ex-beauty student’s trial was reported on around the world – with much opposition over the length of her sentence and the questionable judicial process. Corby has always maintained her innocence – claiming that the drugs were planted in her bag during transit. 


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Innocent victims? As two travellers claim they were forced into smuggling drugs, TNT looks at other famous cases
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