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Saucy drugs mule took snaps with cops while ‘living in fear’

Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum

THESE are the images that show convicted drug mules Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid happily posing with Peruvian police – at a time they claimed they were in fear of their lives from a “kidnapping gang”.

The snaps were taken from two Blackberry phones and a camera seized by police at Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport airport after they uncovered over 11.5kg of cocaine in their bags.

The two women appear to be having the time of their lives as they posed for snaps.

Initially, the pair told investigators that they had been held hostage by a group of drug traffickers and that they were in fear of their lives. 

The photographs were part of an extensive file on the Peru Two.

The Sunday World can also reveal that text messages between the two women show they were close pals before travelling to Peru – and not strangers like McCollum claimed.

When quizzed about the photos found on their phones, McCollum told Peruvian cops: “A photograph can hide what you really feel inside.”

The self-described model and dancer from  Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, also said that the police had asked her and pal Melissa to pose for the pictures.  

“The police asked us to take photos with them, we were too scared to tell them [they were allegedly under duress] because if we told the police he was going to call to make a statement about it,” she said in her official declaration.

“And also, Enrique [a drug dealer who the pair say organised their trip] had pictures of my family and a photocopy of my passport.”

Investigators then asked why she and Reid had such a “cheerful attitude” in the photos if they were in fear of their lives.  

The former photography student replied: “A photograph can hide what you really feel inside. Enrique had told us to take photos showing

The photos were taken around the Inca world heritage site of Machu Picchu, near Cusco in Peru, on August 2 and 3, 2013. 

The pair flew from Lima to the popular tourist destination for four days before returning on August 4.

McCollum's ex boyfriend is facing drugs charges in the North, full story here.

Authorities believe the trip was booked to make the duo look like regular tourists. 

We can also reveal through text messages on their phones that the pair were close friends.

McCollum claimed the pair had only just met in Majorca airport. 

When asked about the  “friendship, enmity or kinship” she shared with Reid, she said: “The first time I met her was at the airport in Mallorca, accompanied by a Peruvian man.”

This was despite the fact that the pair did not travel to Peru at the same time.   Revealed in messages stored on their phones we can see a deep friendship that appears far more than two days old. 

One Blackberry phone each was seized from both girls. Reid had one sim card, while McCollum had two. They say they were bought for them by Enrique.

In the messages, McCollum reveals just after arriving that she says she does not like the country that she has called home for the last three years. 

The first message from Reid to McCollum dated July 31, 2013, reads: “Prepare yourself. I just arrived.  All ok with you xxx.”

McCollum: “Oh Really ?”

Reid: “ Yes you will be fine.”

Reid: “Basically I have gone back in time it’s 5am here. Don’t know how I thought it could be five hours to South America, silly Meldo, haha.”

McCollum: “You just arrived. Wow. We are in travel agents now. Not 100pc what time I fly XX.”

McCollum: “I’ll have a great sleep on the flight. 12 hours. Perfecto Haha. “

Reid: “Ok sweet cheeks

A slew of messages between the duo ensues, with Reid trying to direct McCollum to her location in the airport. 

Reid: The princess has arrived.  Just walk along to the last check in door before domestic arrivals and you will see me. Buzzing to see you girl and only separated for like two days.”

McCollum: I know, I can’t wait to see you.” 

The state’s prosecutor has revealed Interpol and immigration officers will monitor Michaella during her remaining time in Peru. 

Chief Public Prosecutor for drugs Sonia Medina has said the 23-year-old Tyrone woman will be watched while she serves out her parole. 

Speaking to the Sunday World from her office in Lima, Ms Medina stressed that neither McCollum or her accomplice Melissa Reid (23), were victims in any way. 

“These girls are not a major case for us. It is one of thousands we have on our books. At the moment, it is one of 93,000 my office is handling,” she said. 

“That being said, what they have done is far-reaching and very serious. They have knowingly contributed to an illegal operation that affects every member of this state and other countries. 

“You can say they are stupid, you can say they were naive, but the bottom line is they knew exactly what they were doing, and they were going to be very well paid for it.”

The prosecutor went on to note that McCollum and Reid, did not have a leg to stand on legally after an investigation found the cocaine they had been carrying was linked with a top Peruvian drug dealer. 

Ms Medina said the duo identified the man, known as ‘Uncle Charlie,’ when they visited his apartment in Lima. 

She added this visit “may” pose a threat to their safety, but added this was unlikely, with officers from Interpol and the immigration service watching the former photography student.

Ms Medina noted that Interpol’s interest stemmed mainly from the dancer’s interaction with the “very famous” drug dealer.  

“All the time we knew they were lying,” said Ms Medina. “We knew all of these stories about being kidnapped were nonsense.”

McCollum, an aspiring model and photography student from Dungannon, was released on parole at 5pm last Thursday after serving two years and three months of her six-year eight-month sentence. 

A judicial process will now determine what, if any, conditions are attached to McCollum’s parole.

It had been reported that moves are being made to repatriate her to Northern Ireland, but sources said this would probably not happen until the end of the year.

Reid, from Lenzie, near Glasgow, is still in Ancon Dos as she has petitioned for a transfer to Scotland, where she will serve the rest of her sentence, rather than take advantage of parole in Peru.

Adam Cullen