peru (2/6)

The drama-documentary series that tells the gripping real-life stories of travellers detained overseas continues its new run. The second episode recounts the tale of Russell Thoresen, a young American who moved to Miami in search of a better life. After meeting and falling in love with a beautiful girl, he was conned into becoming a drug mule – and ended up alone in a Peruvian jail.

When naïve 20-year-old Russell Thoresen moved from small-town Tennessee to the Florida Keys, he thought he had found paradise – a laid-back world of sun, sand, sea and attractive women. He found a trailer to live in and a great job running boat trips for tourists, but things were about to change. Just a few months later, he was trapped in a world of cocaine smuggling, betrayal and intimidation.

Russell’s problems began when he met a beautiful 17-year-old redhead called Kim who needed a shoulder to cry on. After a whirlwind romance, Kim moved into the trailer and the pair became lovers, but there was a problem – Kim was a cocaine addict. The lovesick Russell vowed to help her quit the habit and spent an idyllic few months devoted to his new girlfriend. All was going well until Kim asked Russell to become a drug mule – seemingly out of the blue. She claimed that her contacts would pay them $13,000 each, plus a two-week expenses-paid holiday in exchange for smuggling three kilos of cocaine from the Peruvian capital, Lima, to Miami.

He initially refused, but eventually agreed to accompany Kim for her safety, on the condition that he would carry no drugs himself. Once in Lima, however, the drug gang suddenly announced that Kim was to fly alone three days earlier than scheduled – supposedly to protect Russell in case of complications.

On the day of Kim’s flight, the gang forced Russell to stay in his hotel room. That afternoon, the boss arrived looking angry and reported that Kim had boarded her plane and flown back to Miami before she could be strapped with the cocaine – and that Russell would now have to carry the drugs or be killed.

Despite his objections, Russell was intimidated into becoming the drug mule he said he would never be – and was soon being loaded with six kilos of cocaine and sent to the airport. After a nerve-racking couple of hours, Russell was about to board the plane back to the States, when a security guard caught him by accident.

Russell was arrested and sent to Peru’s notorious Callao prison, where conditions were appalling. He was alone, miles from home and surrounded by dangerous felons – but Russell’s worst moment was yet to come. After recounting his ordeal to Danny, a fellow American inmate and an experienced drug dealer, Russell was told that Kim, the girl he had fallen in love with, had been paid to lure him to Peru where he would be forced to smuggle drugs.

Would the Peruvian authorities ever believe that Russell had been tricked and threatened into committing his crime? Would he ever see Kim again? And had the girl he fell in love with really been working as a professional honey trap, or was she just another victim of the ruthless gang?

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  • tina myers

    i met russel when i was released from prision in santa monica, before that i too was in callao i escaped and broke my leg before. let me tell you the money was not worth it. but when i left the prision and went to visit the guys i knew why i was there. hi russel

  • tina myers

    i met russel when i was released from prision in santa monica, before that i too was in callao i escaped and broke my leg before. let me tell you the money was not worth it. but when i left the prision and went to visit the guys i knew why i was there. hi russel

  • sylvia

    Wish I could get a message to Russell. After watching this gripping programme last night, it struck me that Kim had probably done that kind of thing many times before, in return for a constant supply of her drugs. Another thing that stood out was her familiarity with the dealers. I think she probably did love Russell but her love of drugs was stronger, and she was probably scared to stick with him, it was all pre-arranged that she left before him, she seemed to agree with the dealers in Peru pretty quickly when it was suggested. I am so glad that Russell is happily married now and wish him the very best of luck.

    • DrJay DrJay

      He’s divorced now. His myspace status says “single”. You can send him a message there, I’m sure, Seems like a really sweet loyal guy, like most American men, truly subservient to their females, far more trustworthy & loyal than those selfish manipulative cows are. Mind you, you’re right about the drugs; drugs will ALWAYS outweigh everything and anyone else in a drug addict’s eyes to the point that morality no longer remains an issue…I doubt she ever loved him or really expressed true sentiments to him. He’s the sweet type who clearly saw her through rose-tinted lenses and even after finally realising that she was obviously privy to this entire plan from the outset (maybe not from the complete beginning, but defo as her addiction spun out of control – remember, she’s now doing coke in McDonalds in front of kids, so she’s way gone & amoral), but perhaps it was. Yank females are the ugliest creatures (on the inside) I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. Russell is pretty typical of most Yank men; ironically enough, they are the most easy-going men I’ve ever encountered, huge sweet ignorant docile teddy bears. I would trust an American guy I’d just met better than a Yank female acquaintance or new to medium-old friend EVERY TIME!

      • Esme S

        Awww–sounds like some American girl made fun of Dr. Jay’s widdle wienie.

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