UK citizen Melissa Reid announced via the UK newspaper The Daily Mail on Sunday that she plans to plead guilty to the drug charges leveled against her by the Peruvian government.
Reid, alongside Northern Irishwoman Michaella McCollum was caught at Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport attempting to smuggle £1.5 million worth of cocaine on a flight to Ibiza in early August. Since their arrest, the two 20-year-old women have been incarcerated at Lima’s Virgen de Fátima prison.
Reid told the Daily Mail on Friday that “I’m now coming to terms with the fact I am so far away from my family. This is real. After a lot of thought and advice from my lawyer I am going to go in front of the judge and admit I was in possession of the drugs and that I went to Peru to pick up drugs to take to Spain – I am willing to plead guilty to that.”
The Daily Mail reports that a guilty plea will lead to Reid being given a sentence of 6 years and 8 months, but she could be released in less than three years if all goes as planned. Reid told The Daily Mail that she feared the possibility of being imprisoned for more than two decades if her case went to trial: “I cannot take that chance and face 15 to 25 years in jail after being found guilty at trial.”
Reid also expressed her frustration with the detective work carried out by Peruvian investigators, saying “The authorities here have done nothing in terms of trying to get evidence of others involved. We told them what we knew but it is almost like they don’t seem to want to look. It has been so frustrating and disheartening. They don’t believe we were forced and they seem to think it’s our job to find the evidence – but it’s very hard to do that from behind bars. This is the easy way out for them.”
Reid and McCollum maintain that they were forced at gunpoint by Colombian gangsters to transport the drugs, telling authorities that the drug traffickers threatened to hurt their families if they did not comply.
Reid’s co-accused, Michaella McCollum may also plead guilty. The Daily Mail reports that a guilty plea may also open up an opportunity for the two young women to be transferred to prisons in the UK instead of serving the rest of their time in Peru.
According to UK paper The Independent, the pair had originally planned to take their case to trial, in the hope that authorities would be able to find more evidence concerning the gangsters who allegedly forced them to smuggle the cocaine. However, they have decided that strategy may be “too risky.”
Concerning her feelings about the upcoming guilty plea, Reid told The Daily Mail “I am really scared about what I am about to do but I am also relieved that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Daily Mail reports that Reid will next appear in court on Sept. 24. Reid will take plea deal to receive shorter sentence.