British, Irish women plead guilty to trafficking in Peru

LIMA - Two young women from Britain and Ireland pleaded guilty in a Peruvian court Tuesday to attempting to sneak 11 kilos of cocaine out of the country and into Spain.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, of Ireland and Melissa Reid, 19, of Britain, stated that they "knew they were going to transport drugs and that they regret having participated in such an act," according to a court press release.

Both were arrested on August 6 at the international airport in Lima, when 5.7 kilos of cocaine were found in McCollum's luggage and 5.8 kilos in Reid's.

By cooperating with authorities the women can expect to gain some benefits and will have a significantly shortened trial.

Still, under Peruvian law, the two could receive between eight and 15 years in prison, according to the court.

The pair recounted to a judge how they had prepared and transferred the drugs and told him of contacts with whom they had coordinated the transaction.

After their arrest, the women told British reporters that they had been kidnapped by a drug cartel, taken to Peru and forced to transport drugs. Peruvian authorities did not buy the story.

Their case had triggered sensational headlines in their homelands, as they had initially been reported missing in Spain in July.

A major campaign was launched to find the two young women, until news emerged of their arrest in Peru.