Peru Two Told They Could Get Home for Christmas
Byline: Gerard Couzens
DRUG mules Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum have been told they could get out of jail by Christmas if they lead prosecutors to the drugs gang who flew them to Lima.
Ms McCollum, from Co. Tyrone, and Ms Reid, her Scottish accomplice in smuggling [euro]1.7million worth of cocaine into Peru in August, must turn witness collaborators to get their prison sentences dramatically cut, it has emerged.
Authorities believe the two women, both 20, are shielding the identities of the drugs bosses who sent them on their mission to Peru from Ibiza - but with the bait of imminent freedom in front of them, the women could be tempted to spill the beans.
The alternative for the young women is a lengthy stretch in a 'hellhole' jail in Peru - because if they fail to convince prosecutors they have done enough even to merit the benefit of an early termination process, they will go to trial and could be sentenced to up to 15 years behind bars.
But the women are in a Catch-22 situation, because if they do tell on the drug lords who organised their trip, their lives would be put at risk.
A source close to the case said: 'Melissa and Michaella are aware that collaborating with the state prosecutor is an option. If you accept the idea they do know more than they are letting on, then they face an agonising decision. Snitching on an international drugs gang obviously carries its risks but spending some of the most important years of your life in a hellhole jail thousands of miles from home can't be very pleasant either.'
The revelation of a get-out-of-jailquick deal comes just hours before a crucial court hearing at which Ms McCollum and Ms Reid will be asked for more information about their life-changing trip to Peru.
changing trip to Peru.
Last week, the women confessed to drug smuggling after weeks protesting their innocence in the hope of being sentenced to less than seven years in prison.
But their defence strategy appeared to fail when prosecutors got the sentence hearing cancelled.
Peruvian state prosecutors are demanding more information from the women before they agree to let them benefit from an early termination process whereby drug mules automatically receive a sixth off the minimum eight-year sentence for drug trafficking. …