A convicted drugs mule has admitted she only agreed to smuggle £1.5 million of cocaine because she wanted to show off to her friends.

Melissa Reid, a 22-year-old from Scotland, was caught trying to take the class-A drug out of Peru with Michaella McCollum, who is from Northern Ireland. Now Melissa, who was sentenced in August 2013 to six years and eight months in prison, has finally flown back to Britain.

She told the Scottish Mail on Sunday that she had seen drug smuggling as a challenge.

She said: “I was offered 5,000 euro but it wasn’t just about the money. I just wanted to be able to boast about it.

“I now realise that I put myself at risk and no one would have known where I was if anything had happened to me, but I didn’t care at the time.”

Melissa has spent almost three years in jails in Peru after she was arrested at airport security in Lima as she attempted to fly back to Spain.

Cocaine is smuggled to UK from South America

Most of the world’s cocaine is produced in three South American countries – Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. The National Crime Agency (NCA) was set up in October 2013 and in its first year of operation, it seized almost 213 tonnes of illegal drugs.

The confiscated drugs included 69.8 tonnes of cocaine, 4.5 tonnes of heroin and 123.1 tonnes of cannabis. The NCA estimates that between 25 and 30 tonnes of cocaine are brought into Britain every year, mainly from South America.

A powerful stimulant, cocaine can be highly addictive. As well as making users feel more confident, it also raises the body’s temperature and heart rate.

It can lead to heart attacks, particularly if taken by someone with a pre-existing medical condition. And it can also cause problems with mental health, including anxiety, depression, panic attacks and paranoia.

If you think someone you know is taking cocaine, there are a few signs to look out for. These include loss of appetite and an irregular sleep pattern.

You may also see traces of white powder around their nostrils and they may suffer from a runny nose and frequent nosebleeds.

One way of finding out for certain whether someone is misusing cocaine or another illegal substance is through a drugs test. AlphaBiolabs offers a wide range of drug testing services from peace of mind tests and home testing kits to workplace testing services and legal tests which can be submitted as evidence in court proceedings.