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The two British girls suspected of attempting to traffick drugs out of Peru have been charged and face a maximum sentence of 15 years if convicted.

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid, both 20, were arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine from Peru.

They were detained while trying to board a flight from Lima to Madrid. Peruvian police said they found around 11 kilos (24lb) of cocaine hidden inside food packages.

Ms McCollum's lawyer Peter Madden said both women would plead not guilty.

michaella mccollum connolly

Michaella McCollum Connolly (left) and Melissa Reid have been charged with drug offences

michaella mccollum connolly
The pair, both 20, deny the allegations and claim they were forced to carry the bags by armed men

Officers say they have concluded their initial investigation into the case with their findings forming the basis of a pre-trial hearing that will determine what the pair are to be charged with.

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  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly, Peter Madden

    Ireland's Michaella McCollum Connolly, left, Scotland's Melissa Reid, second from the left, and British lawyer Peter Madden representing Connolly, talk to a translator during their hearing at court in Callao, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Prosecutors formally levied drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday against Reid and Connolly who were arrested this month trying to depart Peru with 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage. The man at right is an unidentified translator. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, left, and Melissa Reid, of Scotland, center, attend their hearing at court in Callao, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Prosecutors formally levied drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday against Reid and Connolly who were arrested this month trying to depart Peru with 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage. The man at right is an unidentified translator. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Michaella McCollum Connolly, right, and Melissa Reid are escorted by police as they arrive to court for their hearing in Callao, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Prosecutors formally levied drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday against Reid, of Scotland, and Connolly, of Ireland, who were arrested this month trying to depart Peru with 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid

    Melissa Reid, of Scotland, smiles as she arrivals to court for her hearing in Callao, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Prosecutors formally levied drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday against Reid and Michaella McCollum Connollyand, of Ireland, who were arrested this month trying to depart Peru with 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, left, and Melissa Reid, of Scotland, center, listen to a translator during their hearing at court in Callao, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. Prosecutors formally levied drug-trafficking charges on Tuesday against Reid and Connolly who were arrested this month trying to depart Peru with 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage. The man at right is an unidentified translator. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, left, and Melissa Reid, of Britain, in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Reid and Connolly being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, right, sits inside a police car as she is moved from the National Police Anti-drug headquarters to a court where she will be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Connolly and her travel partner being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid

    Melissa Reid, of Britain, sits inside of police car as she is moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court where she will be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Reid and her travel partner being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, is escorted in handcuffs into a car by police as she leaves the National Police anti-drug headquarters before being driven to a court where she will be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Connolly and her travel partner being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid, Michaella McCollum Connolly

    Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, front left, and Melissa Reid, of Britain, in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Reid and Connolly being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Melissa Reid

    Police escort Melissa Reid, of Britain, left, from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Video emerged showing Reid and her travel partner being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • William Reid

    William Reid, father of Melissa Reid, of Britain, leaves the National Police anti-drug headquarters where his daughter and her travel companion Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, are being held after their detention in Lima, Peru, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. Video emerged showing the two women being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Peter Madden, Keith McCollum Connolly

    The brother of suspected drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly, Keith, right, and her lawyer Peter Madden, second from the left, leave the National Police anti-drug headquarters where Michaella and her travel partner Melissa Reid, are being held, in Lima, Peru, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. Video emerged showing the two women being interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Peter Madden

    British lawyer Peter Madden, right, who is representing Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, speaks to the media outside the National Police anti-drug headquarters where Connolly and Melissa Reid, of Britain, are being held after their detention in Lima, Peru, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. Video emerged showing the two women being nervously interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • Peter Madden, Keith McCollum Connolly

    The brother of suspected drug smuggler Michaella McCollum Connolly, Keith, right, and her lawyer Peter Madden, second from the left, leave the National Police anti-drug headquarters where Michaella and her travel partner Melissa Reid, are being held, in Lima, Peru, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. Video emerged showing the two women being interrogated after their Aug. 6 detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • A police officer walks past the National Police anti-drug headquarters where Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, and Melissa Reid, of Britain, are held after their detention in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. Video emerged showing the two women being nervously interrogated after their detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

  • In this Aug. 6, 2013 photo released by Peru's National police, food packages allegedly containing cocaine and found in the luggage of Michaella McCollum Connolly, from Ireland, and Melissa Reid, from Britain, lay on a table after the women were detained at the airport in Lima, Peru. Video emerged showing the two women being nervously interrogated after their detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Peru's National Police)

  • In this Aug. 6, 2013 photo provided by Peru's National Police, Michaella McCollum Connolly, of Ireland, left, and Melissa Reid, of Britain, stand behind their luggage after being detained at the airport in Lima, Peru. Video emerged showing the two women being nervously interrogated after their detention at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain. In the video, Reid says she was forced to take "these bags" in her luggage. She says she didn't know there were drugs inside them. (AP Photo/Peru's National Police)