Monday 26 September 2016

Ultra-secure Blackberry texts show drug mules were far from strangers

Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30

For criminals, BlackBerry phones and the network's free messenger service (BBM) has been a godsend, offering instant and highly secure communication to anyone with a similar smartphone once they have swapped a pin number.

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BlackBerrys were the preferred method of instant encrypted communication by the ringleaders behind the 2011 London riots.

michaella McCollum and Lisa Reid were each given a BlackBerry by the drugs kingpin behind their attempt to smuggle €2m of cocaine from Peru to Spain. Texts between the pair reveal that far from being strangers who had been kidnapped and forced to smuggle the drugs, as they claimed after their arrest, the women were friends. Reid even has a pet name for McCollum, "princess".

There is also evidence that Michaella was aware that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was a more efficient method of communication.

In the texts, McCollum reveals just after arriving that she already "hates" the country and the people of the capital, Lima.

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: "Don't forget it's 5am here."

McCollum: "Ok darling."

Reid: "HAHA Princess gets all the special treatment of course."

McCollum: "HAHA my flight is this evening at 6.50pm. Leaving to go to the airport at 5.30."

Reid: "Ok sweet cheeks and then you have a flight tomorrow from Lima to Cusco at 8am?"

McCollum: "Not sure, don't have the flight notes. Will let you know when I see them xxx."

Reid: "Ok xxx"

McCollum: "Add me on BBM (BlackBerry Messenger)."

August 1, 2013. Reid to McCollum: "You arrived sugar puff yet?"

McCollum: "Yes just arrived waiting to get off where are you?"

A slew of messages between the duo ensues, with Reid directing McCollum to her location in the airport to check in for their connecting flight to Cusco.

Reid: "The princess has arrived. Just walk along to the last check in door before domestic arrivals and you will see me."

McCollum: "I already hate this place and the people."

Reid: "Same. Rude. Lima is shit but I think Cusco will be better. You know where you are going?"

McCollum: "Not yet I will be in a min."

McCollum: "Ah getting so frustrated here still waiting (for her bag) surrounded by these people!"

Reid: "Buzzing to see you girl and only separated for like two days."

McCollum: "I know, I can't wait to see you."

These messages are just a small number of those revealed in a comprehensive file on the Peru Two, obtained by the Sunday Independent, containing everything from travel documents to prison transfer requests and medical and psychological reports. It also revealed that they have already both paid their €2,500 bill for their stay in Peruvian prison.

Although it was not due until the end of their six years and eight-month sentence, both McCollum and her accomplice paid up last May.

Sunday Independent

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