Teen mum is charged over drug smuggling allegations
A TEEN mum has appeared in an American court after allegedly smuggling around £500,000-worth of cocaine in her luggage.
Ayesha Olivia Niles of Vermont Road, Upper Norwood, was arrested at Miami International Airport after officers seized nearly 13kg of the class-A substance hidden inside 24 cake-mix boxes.
The student mother-of-one, who fell pregnant at 15 and featured on Channel 4's 4thought.tv calling for better sex education in schools, was returning to London via Miami from Kingston, Jamaica.
Despite being 17 when arrested on October 21, she turned 18 while being held in a juvenile detention centre and was charged as an adult on Thursday.
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She faces charges of trafficking cocaine and importation of a controlled substance but is yet to enter a plea.
Niles' mother, Sonia Kitson, 49, claims her daughter is innocent. She said: "She was stitched up. She is a teenager who fell into a trap. Her friend bought her a ticket to Jamaica. She was threatened over there and she did not know what to do."
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman confirmed the teen's arrest and said it was providing consular assistance.
Ed Griffith from the Florida State Attorney's Office said: "This is distinctly tragic. You have a 17-year-old girl who turns 18 in jail in a foreign country because she decided to try and smuggle almost 30lbs of cocaine through Miami."
Police said Niles had been picked for screening by customs agents at the airport, who found the drugs stuffed in the food boxes after searching her suitcases.
Under state law, drug-traffickers can receive a life sentence, which in most cases carries a minimum of 15 years.
Miami-Dade state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said: "Sadly, she almost becomes a poster child for how easily the drug trade can corrupt our youth."
A Miami-Dade police official said it was rare to find people transporting such a large quantity of drugs through the airport.