You’re heading off to work for a year in the beautiful land of Ibiza.
Sun, sea, booze, sex and partying – what more could you ask for? Whilst you’re planning your dream trip abroad, packing your tiniest bikinis and bottles of sun tan lotion, you probably aren’t anticipating a long stay in a foreign prison, perhaps not even in the country you’re intending on travelling to. Living, for an unknown amount of time, in an overcrowded, dirty cell with no contact to the outside world presumably isn’t what you had in mind – so why do several British people end up in this situation every year?
This week, two young women were arrested in Peru after being arrested at Lima’s airport for trying to smuggle cocaine worth around £1.5 million out of the country. The last her parents were aware, nineteen year old Melissa Reid, from Glasgow was working in Ibiza, enjoying a life of clubbing and working in bars. Now, their daughter faces up to a year in one of the worst prisons in the world even before her trial begins. Along with her friend Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Belfast, the girls are two of many people who are imprisoned abroad for drug smuggling offences.
…Cocaine Capital of the World…
Although it’s impossible to speculate on the exact circumstances surrounding Melissa and Michaella’s arrests, the use of young British holidaymakers falling in the world of drug smuggling is a worrying situation. In a feat of excellent timing, Stacey Dooley starred in her documentary ‘Cocaine Capital of the World’ on BBC Three last night, where she explored the surprisingly large part Peru plays in the world’s cocaine supply. As the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, Peru is also home to thousands of people caught for attempting to smuggle the white stuff out of the country, a percentage of them British citizens. If you missed the programme – go back and give it a watch, it’ll definitely shock and surprise you.
So, although they have claimed they were forced to carry the packages, we can draw on two theories. One – that the British girls arrested this week were lured in by the promise of thousands of pounds in payment, a lavish lifestyle and free trip to Peru, or two – that they are genuine victims and were forced to take the packages out of the country. Still protesting their innocence, the girls face an uncertain future regardless of the reasons they were carrying the large quantity of drugs – truly every parent’s worst nightmare.
…up to twenty five years in a foreign prison…
Although these cases are fairly rare, the consequences for those involved don’t bare thinking about. With the punishment for drug smuggling sitting at up to twenty five years in a foreign prison – the risk you run of ending up there isn’t worth the reward you’d get if you successfully managed to get the drugs back to Europe. Not in the slightest.