Peru Drug Mules
Melissa Reid (R) and McCollum Connolly are escorted from a truck by police at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao (Reuters).Reuters

Two British women who pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru have been sentenced to six years and eight months in jail.

Melissa Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, and Michaella McCollum from Dungannon, Northern Ireland, were arrested in the Peruvian capital of Lima after police found more than 11kgs (24.2lbs) of cocaine in their luggage.

It was feared the pair, who have already spent four months in custody following their arrest, could have been given a 15-year sentence after being found with more than £1.5m worth of cocaine.

The pair, both 20, were sentenced during a private hearing at a court in Lima.

Originally both women said they were forced to carry the bags which contained food packages stuffed with cocaine after they were threatened with their lives.

The pair pleaded guilty in a bid to be handed a lesser sentence. It has been suggested that the pair may be able to serve some of their sentence in the UK.

The pair were arrested on 6 August as they attempted to board a flight to Madrid. They claimed that drug traffickers had threatened to kill them if they did not carry the bags onboard and insisted that they did not know what the luggage contained.

Reid and McCollum also said they were forced to take pictures of themselves together to convince border control officers and hotel staff that they were ordinary friends travelling together.

They claimed they had not met each other until they were kidnapped in Ibiza by a South American drug cartel and separately taken to a safehouse in Madrid before being flown to Peru.

Chief prosecutor Juan Mendoza Abarca previously described their story as "incredible" and believed the pair had been told what to say.