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Two women get nearly 7 years for Peru drug smuggling

By CNN Staff
December 18, 2013 -- Updated 0237 GMT (1037 HKT)
Michaella McCollum (pictured) and Melissa Reid arrive at the Callao courtroom in Peru on December 17.
Michaella McCollum (pictured) and Melissa Reid arrive at the Callao courtroom in Peru on December 17.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The women are sentenced to six years and eights months in prison
  • They pleaded guilty to the charges after first saying that they were coerced
  • The women were arrested as they tried to board a flight carrying 25 pounds of cocaine

(CNN) -- A Peruvian court has sentenced an Irish woman and a Scottish woman accused of trying to smuggle some 25 pounds of cocaine from Peru to Europe to six years and eight months in prison.

Michaella McCollum, from Ireland, was arrested alongside Melissa Reid, from Scotland, by Peruvian national police at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima on August 6. McCollum was 20 at the time; Reid was 19.

They were stopped as they tried to board an Air Europa flight from Lima to Madrid after authorities found cocaine in their luggage, hidden inside food packets. Their final destination was Palma de Mallorca in Spain.

When they were arrested, the two women told police they had been coerced into carrying the cocaine. They later reversed course and pleaded guilty to the charges.

The pair said they regretted their actions and have cooperated with investigators by elaborating on their role and the contacts who coordinated the smuggling attempt, read a statement from the court handling the case.

There is a prisoner-transfer agreement between Peru and the United Kingdom, which means that individuals can apply to serve their sentence back in their home country, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said.

Peru is the world's top cultivator of coca, the plant whose leaves are used to produce cocaine. It overtook Colombia for the dubious honor.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark, Rafael Romo, Claudia Rebaza, and journalists Peter Taggart and Maria Elena Belaunde contributed to this report.

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