Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Cocaine mule Michaella - I wept telling mum I was in jail

Nicola Anderson

Published 13/01/2014|07:33

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Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao...Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao December 17, 2013. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Melissa Reid (unseen), from near Glasgow in Scotland, charged in Peru with drug trafficking, are set to go on trial in Peru on Tuesday and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. The two women were arrested at Lima airport in August after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities.  REUTERS/Mariana Bazo (PERU - Tags: CRIME LAW DRUGS SOCIETY)...I
Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao.

DRUGS mule Michaella McCollum wept as she told of "the hardest phone call" she ever had to make -- to tell her mother she was in jail in Peru.

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The young Northern Irish woman had been missing, feared dead on the Spanish party island of Ibiza for almost two weeks last summer.

When she heard her daughter's voice on the phone, Nora McCollum screamed: "My baby! I'm so glad you are ok, I thought you were dead."

But the phone went silent when Michaella (20) answered: "Mummy, I'm in jail. In Peru."

Jailed for six years and eight months for drug trafficking alongside Melissa Reid from Scotland, Michaella has revealed for the first time from her filthy cell at the Virgen de Fatima jail in Lima how she fell in with a drugs gang that used the girls as mules.

Before pleading guilty, both women claimed they had been coerced into carrying the drugs by Colombian drug lords who kidnapped them at gunpoint.

Michaella says she now looks back and asks: "How stupid was I?" She revealed how she fell in with a group at a house party and was asked if she wanted to go with them to Barcelona the next day.


Michaella said yes and went back to her apartment in another village with a man known as "Jake" -- a drug dealer who was "well known and well liked".

He helped her pack and they returned to the party -- but her passport was taken from her and she was told she was going to Majorca, not Barcelona.

She was flown there the next morning and first met Melissa at the airport.

The first thing they said to one another was "What the f***?" she claimed.

The girls were taken to a house and were locked up by a Colombian gang for four days and told they had to "do a job" for the gang. One of the men had downloaded pictures of Michaella's brother and sister from Facebook and used them to threaten her, warning that if she was a "bad girl," her siblings would get hurt.

Michaella admits in a new interview with the Belfast Telegraph's Sunday Life newspaper, that she could have easily informed the authorities at several points along the journey to South America.

"It's easy for everyone to say you should have told someone, but if we had rang the police and said, 'oh hello, we have drugs here and we were forced to carry them', they would have just came to the hotel and arrested us. We were too scared," she said.

"Looking back now I wish I had, but it's easy to look back and think that."

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