ACCRA, Ghana – Two 16-year-old British girls were convicted Wednesday of trying to smuggle cocaine out of the West African country to Europe in laptop bags, officials and lawyers said.
Both girls were found guilty on counts of possession and trafficking of narcotic drugs, said Gary Nicholls, a British High Commission spokesman who announced the ruling outside the courthouse.
The girls, who face up to three years in jail, will be sentenced Dec. 5, he said.
The students from London were arrested at the Accra airport in July with about 13 pounds of the drug in their computer cases.
Officials had said earlier the two had been recruited in London by drug traffickers who promised them an all expenses-paid vacation in return for serving as drug couriers. The teens reportedly left for Africa telling their parents they were going on a trip to France.
The head of the girls' legal team said they plan to appeal.
"We are deeply disappointed at the verdict. These are two extremely vulnerable young girls whose naivete was ruthlessly exploited by the man who lured them to Ghana and led them to this terrible fate," Sabine Zanker said.
West Africa is increasingly becoming a transit point for drugs headed to Europe. Cocaine, mostly from Colombia, is brought on small planes and dropped on islands off the little-policed Atlantic Ocean coast, then distributed to couriers who carry it into Europe.
British and Ghanaian officials began collaborating last year after the number of drug-related arrests at London airports linked to West African flights surged.