Drug mule’s return a step closer

The repatriation of Tyrone-born drugs mule Michaella McCollum to the North from Peru has been approved by Stormont’s justice minister.

All necessary paperwork has been sent to Peruvian authorities considering the application for transfer, a letter from the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has disclosed.

Melissa Reid, from Scotland, and McCollum, from Dungannon, were impris-oned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.9m from Peru to Spain.

A solicitor has described the conditions of their detention as horrendous.

Stormont minister David Ford said: “After consideration of the facts of this case, including the difficulty encountered in maintaining family contact, I am content to approve the repatriation to Northern Ireland of Michaella McCollum.”

McCollum and Glasgow-born Reid were caught with the haul at Lima airport on August 6, 2013, attempting to fly to Spain.

The pair were caught trying to board a flight with 24lbs of cocaine in food packets hidden inside their luggage.

They claimed they were forced to carry the drugs, but pleaded guilty to charges later that year.

McCollum and Reid faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year prison term, but struck a behind-closed-doors plea bargain to secure a shorter sentence.

Sue McAllister, the director general of NIPS, told McCollum’s legal team: “I can confirm that the Peruvian authorities have all of the documentation they require to enable them to make a decision on your client’s application for repatriation.

“This paperwork includes confirmation that NIPS is prepared to accept her as a transferred prisoner.

“However, the final decision on the application is a matter for the Peruvian ministry of justice and human rights.”


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