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'Yes, I'm guilty': Ibiza drug mule'Posted:

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'Yes, I'm guilty': Ibiza drug mule Melissa Reid to admit smuggling cocaine - for six-year jail term (and she'll be out in three)

One of the two British women arrested for drug trafficking in Peru is to plead guilty after striking a deal that could see her walk free from prison in less than three years.

Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly, both 20, were caught with 1.5million worth of cocaine in their suitcases at Lima International Airport on August 6 and insisted they had been forced to carry the drugs.

But now Miss Reid has told The Mail on Sunday from her prison cell that she is going to admit travelling to the South American country with the intention of collecting the drugs and smuggling them back to Spain.

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Her lawyer has agreed a plea bargain with prosecutors that will see her plead guilty to drugs trafficking in return for a formal sentence of six years and eight months.

Miss McCollum Connollys lawyer has hinted that she too may plead guilty, and was reported as saying: It could happen.

Melissas family, who feared she could be jailed for up to 25 years, are hopeful that the deal could mean she is freed in as little as two-and-a-half years.

They also believe the early guilty plea could pave the way for her to be transferred back to Britain.

The two girls, who had been working in Ibiza bars, have said they were forced to carry the cocaine by a British drug gang who threatened them and their families.

Now Miss Reid, from Lenzie, near Glasgow, has agreed not to pursue the line of defence that she was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to carry the drugs.

And prosecutors have agreed to drop claims that she was being paid to carry the cocaine.

The pair were caught with 1.5million worth of cocaine in their suitcases

It means she is able to plead guilty to the charges without having to admit to being a willing and fully paid-up smuggler.

Miss Reid spoke to this newspaper on Friday by phone from the notorious Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima. She said: 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.

Im 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.

I did it under duress, I still maintain that, and I am glad I do not have to say I accepted money to do it.

I am aware that I will have a drugs conviction, which could cause me many problems, but I am trying not to focus on that.

Pleading guilty is going to enable me to get back to my family in Scotland sooner rather than later. I do not want to be in jail until Im 35 I cant get those years back.

Miss Reid explained she had protested her innocence at first in the hope that the authorities would be able to track down the gang members but now accepts that is too risky a strategy.

Pausing to compose herself as her voice faltered with emotion, she continued: I cannot take that chance and face 15 to 25 years in jail after being found guilty at trial. 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 dont seem to want to look. It has been so frustrating and disheartening.

They dont believe we were forced and they seem to think its our job to find the evidence but its very hard to do that from behind bars. This is the easy way out for them.

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It is anticipated that once a plea is offered and accepted, Miss Reid will be moved to Ancon 2 prison, two hours outside Lima.

She expressed concern that she may be separated from Michaella, from Northern Ireland, whom she says is like a sister to her. She said: We keep each other going.

Miss Reid is expecting to attend a deposition hearing on September 24 where she will be asked to admit her guilt in front of a judge.

A further court appearance will then be set for one or two months time to formally announce the sentence.

A term of six years and eight months is, crucially, below the seven-year limit that entitles prisoners in Peru to a reduction in sentence. It also entitles foreign prisoners to apply for a transfer to their own country.

As part of the plea bargain, Miss Reid is expected to be ordered to pay a fine in the region of 5,000 and could also be hit with additional costs.

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Her father Billy, 53, an energy company manager, said yesterday that lawyers had told him the Peruvian system could allow for the eventual sentence to be less than three years

We are considering this as good a result as we could have hoped for, he said.

Mr Reid, who recently returned from Peru, continued: It seems strange to be happy about the prospect of your 20-year-old daughter being sentenced to six years and eight months in jail, but we are delighted. Crucially, we could start pushing for her to be transferred to Scotland.

I am not proud of what has happened but I ask anyone to put themselves in the position of a 19-year-old who was threatened and told their family was at risk, and think how they would have acted.

Melissa is a loving, friendly, outgoing person. She has been unfairly introduced to unscrupulous thugs and criminals and did not realise what was going on until it was too late.

Miss Reids lawyer Meyer Fishman confirmed last night that a sentence of six years and eight months was agreed in return for a plea of guilty during his meeting with the prosecutor.

My Opinion - Its right that they have been put into prison but when they got sentenced for 6 years & then they get told they should be freed in around 3 years is disgusting.

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