Northern Ireland

Peru drug arrests: Michaella McCollum Connolly questioned

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Media captionThe video shows the two women after being stopped at Lima airport in Peru

Footage has emerged of two women, one from Northern Ireland, who were arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling in Peru.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Dungannon, and Melissa Reid, 19, from Scotland, were arrested trying to board a flight to Madrid a week ago.

It is alleged police found £1.5m worth of cocaine in their luggage.

In the footage, Ms McCollum Connolly is heard confirming her nationality as Irish and detailing travel plans.

Ms Reid can be heard telling police she was forced to carry the bags.

The video, from airport authorities, shows police searching food packets and containers.

Ms Reid is asked if she knew drugs were being carried in the bags and she said she did not.

Ms McCollum Connolly, who had moved to Ibiza from Belfast, was reported missing last week.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The footage shows police searching food packets

Her family had not heard from her for several days.

A statement on Peru's National Police Force website said the cocaine had been hidden inside packages of food.

The two women were stopped as they tried to pass through the Air Europa counter at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima.

Ms McCollum Connolly, a photography student in Belfast, had gone to the Ibizan town of San Antonio in June to look for work as a dancer or a nightclub hostess.

After hearing nothing from her for 12 days, her family appealed on Facebook and other social media websites for any information of her whereabouts.

Ms McCollum Connolly holds an Irish passport. Ms Reid is from Lenzie near Glasgow. Both women have been visited by officials from the British embassy.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has also confirmed it is providing consular assistance to Ms McCollum Connolly's family.

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