A British woman who was on parole in Peru for drug smuggling says she bribed officials to escape the country, and that she’s not the only one.
Lillian Allen, who was jailed for eight years in 2011 for attempting to smuggle seven kilograms of cocaine out of the country, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire program that she left Peru illegally whilst on parole.
Payouts and bribes
In an interview with the BBC, the 49-year-old also said that five other women fled using the same method and that it is “common knowledge among women in the prison that the best way out of the country is to pay corrupt airport police”.
Allen contends that she is innocent, but was advised by her legal team in Peru to plead guilty in order to ensure a reduced sentence.
Paroled in 2014, with her sentence scheduled to end in 2018, Allen had to check in with the police each month, and was paying back a fine of 150 soles ($43) each month. The fine came out of her monthly pay check – 750 soles ($214) – which she earned working in a spa.
Allen knew, however, that she could pay officials in Peru to get back to the UK. “There were a lot of people who had gone straight back home as soon as they got out on parole. One of the girls passed me a number and I called it as soon as I got out,” she told the BBC.
Allen said she arranged to get back to the UK by paying $600 to the police and $500 for the flight. At the airport in Lima, she met with police and they took her photo, told her to what desk to go to and what faces to remember. The British national says she then walked straight through airport security and boarded a plane out of Peru after a airport official pretended to stamp her passport.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph last April, she said that she had been attacked four times after her release, and, afraid she would be killed, she decided to flee the country by bribing corrupt officials.
According to the BBC report, Boris Potozen, Peru’s Chief of Immigration from the National Customs Authority (Superintentedencia Nacional de Migraciones), said in a statement that the problem of corruption was being tackled.
He said that the Authority “has an ‘Office of Ethics and Anti-Corruption’ that is devoted to preventing, fighting and investigating cases of corruption”, and that they “take all allegations of corruption seriously”.
In Peru, as with other countries in the region, corruption is a pervasive problem. In the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, Peru scored 36, with 0 being ‘highly corrupt’ and 100 being ‘very clean’. According to an article by Peru Reports from last December, more than a dozen police officers accused of working with drug trafficking and extortion gangs were arrested.
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