\"21-year-old

21-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, charged with smuggling cocaine in Peru, will be returned to Northern Irish prison by the end of the year.

Peru Two drug mule to move to Irish prison (VIDEO)

\"21-year-old

21-year-old Michaella McCollum Connolly, charged with smuggling cocaine in Peru, will be returned to Northern Irish prison by the end of the year.

Convicted drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly is to be transferred from Peru to a prison in Northern Ireland.

The 21-year-old, from Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, and her Scottish accomplice Melissa Reid, 20, were detained at Lima airport in the Peruvian capital in August last year after 11.5kg of cocaine, worth an estimated $2.4m, was found in their luggage.

In December, Connolly pleaded guilty to drug smuggling and was sentenced to six years and eight months behind bars.

On Wednesday the Irish woman's solicitor, Belfast-based Kevin Winters, confirmed that Peruvian authorities had accepted a formal request to transfer Connolly to Northern Ireland.

It's believed the process could take several months to complete due to complex logistics and paperwork, meaning it could be towards the end of the year before Connolly returns to home soil.

But the news will come as a huge relief to Connolly, who is understood to be enduring hellish conditions in an overcrowded jail in the South American country, which have been highlighted by both her legal team and by Amnesty International.

A statement from Kevin Winters Law Firm said: "Last week we received confirmation from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that the Peruvian authorities had accepted Michaella's prison transfer request and in turn passed this to the UK National Offenders' Management Service (NOMS).

"It is our understanding that NOMS are due to liaise with the various prison authorities in order to facilitate the next stage of the transfer process."

Connolly and Reid, from Glasgow, had faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year jail term, but struck a plea bargain behind closed doors to secure a shorter sentence.

The Irish Examiner notes the pair had previously been held at Lima's Virgen de Fatima prison, but were transferred to the infamous Ancon 2 prison, where nightmarish conditions reportedly mean Connolly is crammed into a cell with 30 other prisoners.

Winters said sanitation and toilet facilities at the mixed prison are terrible and require all females to use a hole in the ground which has to be covered up because of the presence of vermin.

And Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, said he wasn't surprised to learn that Connolly wanted to return home to complete her sentence.

He said: "The Virgen de Fatima and Ancon jails, where Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly have been serving their jail terms, suffer from the same problems as the rest of Peru's prison system, which has a reputation for being deeply corrupt, with prisoners even forced to pay for food and clean water."

Reid has also requested a transfer to a prison back home in Scotland, according to reports.

In July 2014 RTE produced a documentary on Michaella’s story which can be viewed below:

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