Drug mule Michaella McCollum has defended her care-free, party lifestyle in Peru where she is on parole for attempting to smuggle £1.5m of cocaine.
The 23-year-old Dungannon woman has been pictured living it up in the capital Lima with fellow cocaine smuggler Kaouthar Essafi, who she befriended in prison.
Since her release from the notorious Ancon 2 prison in March, McCollum, who has changed her name to Connolly, has been spotted dining out, partying in night clubs and working out at a plush gym with her jail pal.
Following questions over her lifestyle in Lima, where she is supposed to be doing charity work, McCollum and Dutch native Essafi took to social media to hit out at their critics.
In a rant on Essafi’s Facebook page, the pair said they acknowledge their mistakes of the past but are looking ahead to their futures.
“Our firm decision as two young women to focus on the years ahead of us, while keeping the harsh lessons of life in the back of our minds, stands stronger then ever. We will not surrender ourselves, we will not morally collapse nor let depression get hold of us. People who do end up in the dustbin of history. We won’t,” they said in the post.
The pair added: “Yes it is true that we live in a ‘posh’ area of Lima, a poverty stricken and dangerous city where in some neighbourhoods the state of emergency has been declared. This area was explicitly advised to us by our respective embassies due to the highly dangerous areas that this city harbors (SIC).
“Indeed we spend most of our time in the gym. Eating healthy food and make the best of it. After 5 days of merciless work-out we relax on Friday or Saturday in one of the ‘luxurious’ lounges of Miraflores, where we spend 20 to 30 euros for both of us. This is Peru where the standard of living is a fraction of what Europeans are used to. Things should therefore be seen in perspective,” they added.
McCollum was released from the Ancon 2 prison on March 31 after spending less than three years inside for attempting to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru with Scot Melissa Reid.
A court ordered her to spend the next six years of her sentence on parole in Peru. Local priest Sean Walsh and his wife opened their home to McCollum in Lima’s plush Miraflores district.
Upon her release from jail the former dancer hooked up with Dutch national Essafi who is also on parole for trying to traffic 16 kgs of cocaine from Peru to Spain in 2011.