Two UK women sentenced to 7 years for drug trafficking in Peru

LIMA (Reuters) - Two women from the UK caught trying to smuggle $2.3 million (1.5 million pounds) in cocaine out of Peru were sentenced on Tuesday to six years and eight months in prison, a local court in Peru said.

Michaella McCollum, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Melissa Reid, from near Glasgow in Scotland, were arrested at Lima's airport in August trying to board a flight to Madrid with 24 pounds (11 kg) of cocaine hidden in packets of instant food in their luggage.

Their lawyer, Meyer Fishman, said the women are not appealing the court's sentence.

Prosecutors said in August that the women, both 20, faced up to 18 years in prison if convicted.

Hundreds of foreigners have been arrested at Lima's airport trying to smuggle cocaine from Peru, but the case of the "Peru two" rose to become a regular feature in British tabloids.

McCollum and Reid had pled guilty but said they were forced to become drug mules by an armed gang and travelled to Peru under duress.

Before coming to Peru, the women had spent the summer working in bars on Ibiza, a Mediterranean island drawing 700,000 British holidaymakers each year.

The judge had intended to sentence the women to eight years in prison but reduced it to six years and eight months after an agreement, the Fourth Criminal Court of Callao said in a statement.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Leslie Adler)