‘Stupid’ decision lands traveller in jail
A Northern Irish traveller has opened up about her South American drug smuggling shame - revealing she was "stupid" to be seduced into making £5000 ($9432).
Michaella McCollum, 25, served more than two years in a hellhole prison in Peru after she smuggled £1.5 million ($2,831,025) worth of cocaine into the country in 2013.
McCollum, now a mother of two, has revealed all about how she went from a waitress in Ibiza to an international drug smuggler.
In her tell-all book You'll Never See Daylight Again, serialised in the Mail on Sunday, McCollum admits she was "stupid" to get swept up in the dangerous plot.
"Was I guilty? Yes. Did I know what I was doing? Sort of. Was I hung out to dry by a bunch of gangsters and the Peruvian justice system? Absolutely," she said.
"So why did I do it? Why did I jeopardise everything and bring untold heartache to my adored family for a few easy quid?"
The Mirrorreported that McCollum said it was so violent inside the Peruvian prison that she was almost murdered for changing channels on a TV.
She said a fellow prisoner called Danielle held a knife above her head after she flicked over the station and said the lifer would not fear a murder charge as it could hardly add time to her sentence.
Another con fought Danielle off, it was reported.
McCollum flew to Ibiza from her home in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, in June 2013 hoping to escape an abusive boyfriend and a "complicated" relationship with her dad.
She began working as a waitress but claims she was serving up cocaine and ecstasy alongside gin and tonics on the notorious party island.
It was then she met a Cockney dealer called Davey, who asked her if she wanted to do a "run" for him - getting drugs from Spain and bringing them back to Ibiza.
McCollum said she was "insulted" at first but admitted the cash offered played on her mind because she wanted more than the wages she was on working in a bar.
So when he asked her again if she would travel to Barcelona to pick up drugs, McCollum agreed.
She wrote: "It must seem odd that I was even considering it but, right then, drugs were a normal part of daily life and I barely considered them to be illegal.
"I was a young woman living far away from home, my family - and from reality. 'Go on then, Davey', I said. 'Why not? I'll do it'."
RELATED: Model drug mule to star in TV show
'I HAD NO IDEA WHERE PERU WAS'
McCollum revealed how in August 2013, she met a Colombian associate of Davey's called Mateo, who told her she was instead now heading to Peru.
Despite having no idea where the South American country was, McCollum was reassured by his promises there would be "friendly eyes" on her at all times.
Mateo also swore to her "nothing would happen" as she made her way through bribed officials at the airport in Peru where she could return to Ibiza £5000 ($9432) richer.
She writes: "People will have their own opinions of me for everything that's happened, and what I'm going to admit now is only going to give them more fuel. But the sorry truth is I had no idea where Peru was. No clue. I thought it as another Spanish town."
McCollum first flew to Majorca, where she met her fellow drug mule - 20-year-old Melissa Reid from Lenzie in Scotland.
She was told she would catch up with Reid a day later in Lima and the pair would visit tourist hot spots such as Machu Picchu as a cover.
While staying in Majorca waiting for their flights, the girls searched the home of Davey and Mateo's associates, where McCollum was horrified to find an arsenal of guns stashed in wardrobes.
She said: "Melissa flew out on Monday, August 5, and I followed the next day. I still didn't know where Peru was, but I guessed it was on the opposite side of Spain from Barcelona because of the time the flight was taking. Yes, astonishing as it sounds, I was that naive."
Two days into the trip in Peru, Reid received a phone call and was instructed to take a large bag outside to meet the dealer.
But she was forced to take another bag to fit in the haul of cocaine, which was hidden in 31 sachets of porridge oats.
'WE WERE ABOUT TO GET SCREWED'
The pair set to work dividing the packets to carry in their suitcases - with McCollum finally beginning to understand the gravity of the situation she was in.
She said: "Now that I could see the scale of the operation, I was more convinced than ever we were about to get screwed.
"Davey's Colombian friend might have paid a few guards to turn a blind eye, but you'd need to bribe the whole airport to get this amount through."
The girls woke at 6am the next day and travelled to Lima airport where McCollum spent 20 minutes in a bathroom "contemplating how my life had come to this".
They queued at check-in and watched without breathing or blinking as the cases containing £1.5 million worth of cocaine were sent on a conveyor belt.
'THE GAME WAS UP'
Describing her fear as the case travelled towards sniffer dogs, McCollum wrote: Oh my God, I just want to run. But I had to stand still. Three feet until make or break. Then two feet. Then … My case was next to the dog and a man with a machine gun. Neither of them moved.
"It passed them both and headed towards the gap in the wall. Somehow, miraculously, we had got away with it.
"Then I realised Melissa was no longer standing next to me. She was being led by the arm into a room behind the check-in desk. Her bags were being carried there too.
"Behind her were six men wielding semiautomatic weapons. Three dogs strained anxiously on their leashes. We'd got away with nothing. The game was up."
McCollum and Reid famously became known as the Peru Two when they were snapped in front of their suitcases after being caught.
They were jailed for six years in December 2013 after admitting trying to smuggle 11kg of cocaine out of the country.
Both spent two years in a squalid Peruvian jail where McCollum revealed she was threatened with knives by fellow lags before they were allowed to fly home.
She gave birth to twin boys Rio and Raphael in May this year and now says she wants to travel to world with her "baby boys".
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission