The two British women accused of drug trafficking £1.5 million worth of cocaine have been taken to an infamous Peruvian jail which houses some of the country's most dangerous killers.
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly have spent their first night in the notorious prison – a former army barracks – surrounded by killers, drug dealers and terrorists.
Former prisoners say bullying and prostitution as a form of survival are common, while the charity Prisoners Abroad said people in Peru’s jails often had to sleep on floors, in corridors or in toilet areas because of overcrowding in prisons, with many at 200 per cent over capacity.
"Many have lost teeth due to absolutely no nutrition within the meagre food portions given," a report by the charity said.
"Access to clean and drinkable water is rare within Peruvian prisons and one has no other choice but to buy bottled water at inflated prices."
Reid and McCollum Connolly had expected to be taken to a modern jail, where most foreigners involved in drugs trafficking are locked up, the Mirror reported.
The 20-year-old women, who claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened their family members, were taken to the Virgen de Fatima jail after being warned they could now spend up to three years in prison awaiting trial.
However, officials have now claimed the women confessed to drug officers that they knew they had drugs in their suitcases.
A court spokesman said: “Although they claimed they had received threats to make them take the drugs, they admitted they knew drugs were in their luggage and didn’t warn the authorities.
“For that reason and for others relating to flight risk and their family and work ties to Peru, they were remanded in custody."
The pair now face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years if convicted, a Peruvian prosecutor's office in Callao, near Lima, has said.
McCollum's lawyer Peter Madden said the women were effectively beginning a prison sentence, as they were led away yesterday for an unknown amount of time for their trial.
Madden has maintained his client will plead not guilty and described the conditions she is being held in as "unacceptable".Suggest a correction