Northern Ireland

Peru arrests: British and NI women held over 'drugs' find

Michaella McCollum Connolly
Image caption Relatives of Ms Connolly reported her missing after she failed to contact them for several days

Two young women have been arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling in Peru, local police say.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Belfast and Scot Melissa Reid, 19, are each alleged to have been carrying almost 6kg of cocaine in their luggage.

They were stopped and searched at the capital Lima's international airport on Tuesday.

They had been due to fly to Madrid, then onto Majorca, according to Peru's National Police Force website.

A statement on the site said the cocaine had been hidden inside packages of food.

It had an estimated street value of about £1.5m (1.7m euros).

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

Ms Connolly had earlier been reported missing in Ibiza after failing to contact her family for several days.

The photography student 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.

The appeal was backed by several Irish sport stars. Her family said she would usually be in touch every couple of days.

Ms Connolly holds an Irish passport. Ms Reid is from Lenzie near Glasgow.

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

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said: "We are aware of the arrest of a British national in Peru this week and are providing consular assistance to the family."

Peru is one of the world's top three cocaine producers, alongside Colombia and Bolivia.

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