Two women arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of Peru have been formally charged, prosecutors have said.

Michaella McCollum, 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in Northern Ireland, and Melissa Reid, 20, from Glasgow, face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if convicted, the prosecutor's office in Callao, near Lima added.

UPDATE: Peru Drugs Bust Suspects: New Pictures

The pair have spent the last two weeks in custody over the drug trafficking allegations but are expected to be transferred to prison to await their trial.

They were pictured yesterday in handcuffs being escorted by officers from the National Police anti-drug headquarters for medical examinations.

Peruvian police said they found around 24lb of cocaine hidden inside food packages as the women attempted to board a flight from Lima to Madrid.

The women, who both deny the allegations and say they were forced to carry the bags by armed men, are expected to enter not guilty pleas.

If refused bail, the women face up to three years in jail before a trial.

But further questions about the two women's version of events were raised following the emergence of photographs that allegedly show them posing on a balcony and on a beach with glasses of beer days before they were arrested at Lima airport.

The pair say they were told to take photos of themselves at tourist spots to make it look like they were friends travelling together, the Daily Mail said.

Ms Reid's father William Reid, who has flown to Peru to be with his daughter, agreed the photos were ambiguous, but told the newspaper: "I want to know who took that picture of them on their balcony. Was it taken by a third person or by a minder, and who was drinking the beer?

"That wasn't Melissa's beer in the photo because I have never in my entire life seen her drink beer. She drinks a lot of water and, if she is drinking, it would be vodka."

He added: "I believe the trip to the beach was part of a set-up that they asked them to smile to build up a portrayal of them as happy holidaymakers.

"Melissa said they had been told by the men that they weren't smiling enough in the pictures and they told them to look happier.

"I can only go by what I have been firmly told by the girls. The two girls' stories are very tight, very consistent, with a lot of detail and they seem to be telling the truth, as far as I can gauge."

He added that Ms Reid had never shown an interest in going to Peru, and was already on her "dream holiday", saying: "To me, that suggests she was not there willingly."

Both women travelled separately to the party island of Ibiza in search of work this summer.

Before news of the arrests broke, the family of Ms McCollum, a photography student and former nightclub hostess, had launched an internet campaign, fearing she was missing.

Meanwhile, a senior Spanish police officer said he did not believe they had been acting under duress.

First Sergeant Alberto Arian Barilla, head of the Ibiza police unit responsible for countering organised crime, told the BBC: "In my experience, I don't think these two girls were forced to do this because - particularly when you go to South America - you need to pass several controls.

"The first thing you do is go to the passport control and say 'listen, this is what is happening to me'. The policeman will react so I don't think they were forced."

Ms McCollum's lawyer, Peter Madden, denied media reports that had emerged about his client alleging involvement with drugs.

"Michaella McCollum did not owe any money to any drugs dealer, she was not and is not involved in the drugs trade, she has no criminal record, she has never been in trouble with the police in her life," he said.

"She was not seen on video carrying drugs, as was alleged in one newspaper, she was carrying a handbag, it was her handbag, it was pretty obvious it wasn't drugs, but that was the report.

"She was not out shopping in Lima and spending a lot of money, that didn't happen."

Mr Madden said the women had been kept in harsh conditions but had been treated well.

"They are fairly tough conditions, there's not an awful lot to eat there, but she's been treated fairly well by the police and by the people in the police centre," he said.

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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)