Peru drug arrests: Footage shows Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum

Media caption,
Video footage shows Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum questioned in Peru on suspicion of drug trafficking

Video has been released of a Scottish woman and a woman from Northern Ireland being questioned at Lima airport in Peru over suspected drug trafficking.

Melissa Reid, 19, from Lenzie, near Glasgow, and Michaella McCollum, 20, from Dungannon, were stopped trying to board a flight to Madrid a week ago.

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

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

The two women are being held in custody.

The video, released by the National Police of Peru, 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.

The 19-year-old is a former pupil of Lenzie Academy in East Dunbartonshire who had been living in Ibiza since June.

She had posted hundreds of photographs to her Facebook page over the summer, but it has not been updated since 21 July.

'Living nightmare'

Sean Walsh, an Irish-American archbishop with the Eastern Catholic Church, has visited the women in a police holding centre.

He said: "They told me that there were a group of Colombians that actually took them at gunpoint and threatened them."

The archbishop said the women said they were held for a while by the gang before being taken to Morocco and back again to Peru.

"I don't know how that happened and I don't know how they got over to Peru," he said.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The footage shows police searching food packets

"There's no direct flight from Morocco, they go through Spain probably, but if they threatened them in some way, that to me seems like a credible defence."

Ms Reid's father William told reporters at his home in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, on Tuesday that the family were going through a "living nightmare" and had not slept since they found out.

He said his daughter was "bright, beautiful, bubbly and intelligent, just like her Facebook page shows".

He said he had a very brief phone conversation with his daughter and told her to be strong and not to get too emotional.

The family are being advised by the Foreign Office but Mr Reid said they are "not getting much information".

He said there is "no way" his daughter would have gone along willingly with a plan to smuggle drugs.

'Greater danger'

He feels his daughter may have been "groomed" by somebody who she may have thought was a friend she made on holiday.

The 53-year-old said the family had no plans to go to Peru at the moment and feared going out there could actually put his daughter in "greater danger".

Ms Reid's mother Debra previously said she had no idea her daughter had travelled to Peru.

She said she thought she was in Ibiza having a good time with her friends.

She said the Foreign Office had assured her that her daughter was being well cared-for.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson said she was "deeply concerned" to hear about the arrest.

"Naturally, this is a very distressing time for Melissa and her family, who are of course worried about her welfare," she said.

"I have sought reassurances from the Foreign Office that the family are receiving ongoing support, both here and in Peru, and I have asked to be kept informed of how things progress."

Ms McCollum holds an Irish passport.

She had been studying photography in Belfast, before going to the Ibizan town of San Antonio in June to look for work as a dancer or a nightclub hostess.

'Drug mules'

She was reported missing last week after her family heard nothing from her for 12 days.

They appealed on Facebook and other social media websites for any information of her whereabouts before it emerged she had been arrested in Peru.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was providing consular assistance to Ms McCollum's family.

The National Police of Peru said they found more than 24lb of cocaine - thought to be worth around £1.5m - hidden in food in the luggage of the two women.

A statement published on the force's website said the two women were alleged to have been acting as "drug mules".

They were detained by drug enforcement officials at Jorge Chavez International Airport after being detected by a sniffer dog.

The women are due to appear in court on Wednesday.

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