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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 12:05 GMT
Drugs carrier 'stupid and naive'
Rachel Franklin
Rachel Franklin visited tourist sites before attempting to leave Peru
A British woman arrested in Peru for allegedly carrying cocaine says she had been "stupid and naive".

Rachel Franklin, 20, was stopped as she was waiting to board a plane to Madrid, Spain, at Lima's Jorge Chavez airport on Sunday.

Ms Franklin, from Southampton, has not yet been charged, but if found guilty of drug smuggling she could face up to 15 years in jail.

She said she hoped to be able to serve her sentence in a British jail.

She is alleged to have been found with 4kg (8lb) of cocaine and is being held at the headquarters of the anti-drug division of the Peruvian police in Lima.

The investigating team said Ms Franklin had flown from Cusco on the same day as her arrest and was intercepted before she began boarding for a flight to Madrid from where she was due to take a connecting flight to London.

I've got three A-levels and I wanted to do something with my life now it's all just ruined. I should have just said no
Rachel Franklin

She told the BBC's Dan Collyns that she had changed her mind at the last moment about carrying the contraband, but had been pressured into doing it.

Ms Franklin, who is unemployed, also said she being treated well by the police and her cell mates have been kind, with both making attempts to bridge the language divide.

Money motivation

"Basically I had a holiday. I was acting like a normal tourist, I went to visit Machu Picchu, went round the restaurants and on the last day I was given drugs to bring back to England.

"The blocks were inside a Winnie the Pooh bag which I put inside my suitcase. Just put it in your suitcase and don't look paranoid - that's all I was told."

She admitted that one of her main motivations was the money she was to have been paid for smuggling the drugs.

"I can't lie, at first it was about the money. I did want 5,000 because being unemployed 5,000 is a lot.

"But on the day before I left I didn't want to do it, but one of the blokes turned round and said that I had to go because all the flights were booked.

"At the start I didn't want to do it but then I was pushed into it at the last minute, just when I wanted to back out.

"I do feel really guilty about not saying no, straight away, and getting myself tangled into all this mess.

"I've got three A-levels and I wanted to do something with my life. Now it's all just ruined; I should have just said no."

Transfer hope

Ms Franklin has said she intends to plead guilty, which together with any evidence she gives, could help police trace members of the drug-trafficking network and could significantly reduce her sentence.

She said the British Embassy had advised her that she could write to the Home Office for a transfer to a British prison, depending on how long a sentence she may receive.

"When I get back to England I just want to get my life back on track, maybe help others in the same situation, who are just young and stupid and naive, I suppose," she added.

Captain Juan Carlos Miranda, from the police anti-drug division who is heading the investigation, said Ms Franklin would not be formally charged until an initial 15-day investigation was completed.

The investigating team said Ms Franklin, who was travelling alone, had arrived in Peru on 15 November.

Peru is the second largest producer of cocaine in the world.

Timeline: Peru
22 Sep 07 |  Country profiles

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