Italian beauty queen arrest linked to Michaella McCollum case

Italian Samantha Scarlino has been arrested in connection with the Peru 2 case
Italian Samantha Scarlino has been arrested in connection with the Peru 2 case

An Italian beauty queen arrested over an alleged international cocaine plot has been linked to the case of Dungannon woman Michaella McCollum, who is currently serving a six year sentence for drug trafficking in Peru.

Peruvian police chief colonel Jorge Meija said model Samantha Scarlino was “recruited” by he same international drugs cartel that targeted Michaella and her friend Melissa Reid from Scotland.

Mr Meija said he believes the 32-year-old actress and former Miss Italy finalist was “seduced” by drug lord’s promise of “tickets, luxury and power” — just like prison pals Michaella and Melissa.

Former beauty queen Scarlino was detained in a Milan hotel in November, accused of being part of a network that sent half a ton of cocaine into Europe from Peru.

According to media reports, the busty brunette was “nose-deep” in a 1,100 pound cocaine exchange when Italian police raided her luxurious hotel suite last November — just three months after McCollum, 20, and Reid, 21, were arrested at Lima airport.

Italian prosecutors believe the cocaine seized from Scarlino was destined for Italy, Belgium, Holland, Spain and France.

In an interview with a Peruvian newspaper last month, Colonel Meija said the model was more than likely targeted by the same kingpins as McCollum and Reid.

Referring to the pair, who were caught at Jorge Chavez Airport with over £1.5 million worth of cocaine in August, Mr Meija said: “The drug cartels are capturing beauty queens to transport cocaine and dirty money. And they (young women) are seduced by the charm of the tickets, luxury and power.”

He said traffickers purposely fill what he called the drugs “grid” with sexy, “siliconed” women to try and throw off Peruvian anti-drugs police.

McCollum and Reid are currently their sentence in the country’s notorious Virgen de Fatima prison, while Scarlino is being held in custody in Italy.

Plans to transfer Melissa Reid back to a prison in the UK are already said to be in motion.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has confirmed that as yet, they have not received any similar applications for Michaella McCollum.