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Image: Michaella McCollum Connolly via Facebook

'Missing' Michaella McCollum Connolly visited by British embassy in Peru

The larger the amount of drugs the longer the sentence in Peru, and if convicted, the women could face up to 25 years in prison.
Aug 11th 2013, 2:52 PM 46,181 71

POLICE IN PERU could hold a 20-year-old Irish woman on suspicion of drug trafficking for up to 15 days before she is charged or released.

Michaella McCollum Connolly from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and her companion Melissa Reid, 19, from Glasgow were allegedly found with around 11kg of cocaine hidden in food packages as they tried to check into a flight bound for Madrid on Tuesday.

In a statement on Peru’s National Police Force site, cocaine weighing 5.7kg was found in Reid’s bags and 5.8kg of cocaine in Connolly’s bags.

The larger the amount of drugs the longer the sentence in Peru, and if convicted, the women could face up to 25 years in prison.

Ireland does not have an embassy in Peru and its honorary consul Michael Russell retired in July.

However, a spokesperson for The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told TheJournal.ie that Connolly would be assisted by the Irish embassy based in Mexico and by the consular team based in Ireland. The British embassy in Peru will also be assisting the women and has already visited them both.

Russell told RTÉ’s This Week that the most important thing now for Connolly was a good translator as what they say now and how it is interpreted will be “very important”.

Peruvian prison

He said that drugs trafficking was a “very serious issue” in Peru and prisons there are in a “pretty horrible condition”.

“It’s all matter of money [in a Peru prison]… Mostly to buy space and buy food,” he said.

If someone is found trafficking 5.5kg of cocaine they could be sentenced to around seven years in prison, if they are found with 11kg they could be given between 15 and 25 years, explained Russell.

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“Usually they would let foreigners out after a third of their sentence, as authorities don’t want them here [Peru],” said Russell. They are then sent home to finish the remainder of their sentence.

Missing in Ibiza

Connolly’s family believed she was missing for almost two weeks in Ibiza. She had moved to the party island to work for the summer months.

Michaella had been studying photography at Belfast Metropolitan College. She also worked in promotions, modelling and as a dancer and nightclub hostess.

The DFA have said they have spoken to the Connolly family and are providing them with consular assistance.

(Pic: Michaella McCollum Connolly/Facebook)

Related: Irish woman missing in Ibiza found and arrested in Peru over drugs find>

More: Fears grow for missing Belfast woman last seen 12 days ago in Ibiza>

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Amy Croffey

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