‘We smuggled for our lives’

Two British women caught with $US1.5 million ($A1.66 million) worth of cocaine in Peru say they had loaded guns held to their heads and were told to smuggle the drugs or die.

Melissa Reid, 19, from Scotland and Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Northern Ireland claim they were forced into trafficking by a Cockney criminal, who plucked them from the streets of Ibiza and had a dossier on their families.

The pair, who are being held at the maximum security Dirandro Police Station in the Peruvian capital say they feared they would be killed if they failed to carry out the demands.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror from the police holding centre in Lima, Reid told how the gang threatened their families and added that the pair had never even met before being sent to Peru by gangsters.

“We were given no option. If we didn’t do as we were told we would be dead. We were not smuggling for money, we were smuggling for our lives.

“We have no doubt they would have killed us both without hesitation if we didn’t do as we were told.

“We both had loaded guns put to our heads. They were more than prepared to use them. If we didn’t do it we were told we would die.”

The women told the paper they were robbed of their passports and mobile phones and followed by members of a violent drugs cartel on board the flights from Spain to Peru.

Once in South America they were ordered to carry the cocaine hidden inside food packets.

Reid said the men had information on their families, who would be threatened if they failed to comply.

They said the first time they met was after being kidnapped and taken to the cartel’s safe house in Majorca.

The women are due to appear at a preliminary court hearing in Lima, but have yet to be formally questioned by Peruvian police.