‘High: Confessions Of An Ibiza Drug Mule’ Explained: How Did Michaella McCollum Become An Inspiration?

Michaela McCollum was just 20 years old when she was imprisoned for smuggling cocaine. “High: Confessions of an Ibiza Drug Mule” is a docu-series about the choices of Michaella McCollum that led her to imprisonment and the choices she made to earn her life back. Michaella was from Northern Ireland, along with Mellisa Reid, a Scottish girl, were arrested for smuggling 12 kilos of cocaine on 6th August 2013 at the international airport of Lima, Peru. These two were infamously known as the Peru Two as their story went viral across the world. Both of them served their sentence at the Ancon Prison, which is known to be one of the maximum-security prisons in Peru. After working as a stylist in the Peruvian jail, Michaella applied to be free on Parole, and her case was considered. She was released after being imprisoned for two years and six months; she was charged with six years and eight months. The Netflix documentary is a reflection of Michaella’s experiences and the ‘Peru two’ case. Various people who have played a role in shaping Michaella’s story have narrated their perspectives as well. 


Spoilers Ahead

Who Is Michaella Mccollum In High: Confessions Of An Ibiza Drug Mule?

The series starts off in Ibiza, where a 19-year-old Michaella McCollum has run away from home in search of a bigger and fuller life. With a one-way ticket to Ibiza, Michaella was ready to start her life. Michaella was free-spirited, approachable, always got along with people, and loved to party. At one of these parties, she met Parry. They were inseparable. They would go around beaches and party the whole night. It was all fun until Michaella started doing drugs. 


Michaella soon realized that she needed to work and find a stable source of income to sustain her lifestyle in Ibiza, so she started working as a bartender. She explains how amazed she was when someone ordered drugs with their drinks as if they were ordering food. The whole Ibizian culture amused her to the point that she even got used to it, the parties, the drugs, and the rush. Michaela herself narrates that, just like in every fairytale, came a tall, dark, handsome guy who screwed up her life. She met Davey, a drug dealer who didn’t consume drugs, an irony in its nature, and for the same reason, she was drawn towards him. At a party under the influence of drugs, she agreed to a drug deal proposed by Davey. Michaella’s best friend tried to alarm her about Davey. She asked her not to go on that trip as it was potentially dangerous, but Michaella chose to ignore all the red flags and went ahead. Her lack of geographical knowledge didn’t even make her realize where she was going, she admits. Michaella tells us how she was brainwashed by the drug peddlers into believing how easy it was to smuggle drugs, how she was convinced every time that everything was taken care of, only later to realize how misinformed she was.

Why Did She Do All This?

Money, money, and only money. Michaella narrates how her greed for money had made her blind to all the poor decisions she had made back in Ibiza. Ibiza’s nightlife and party culture had grown on Michaella; she didn’t want to leave. That’s when Davey offered a deal for 5000 pounds. She thought that it was the perfect amount to sustain her life in Ibiza. After the party, Michalella left for her job. Davey introduced her to Matteo. Later, she met another girl, Melissa Reid. Both of them were supposed to smuggle drugs into Spain. Melissa and Michaella were staying at Julio’s place in Majorca. Michaella tells us how one day when both of them were snooping around the place, they found a drawer with guns. They were frozen, shaken to their core. Michaella recalls how she was alarmed after addressing the guns, but even then, she chose to continue the deal. She flew the next day to her final destination, Lima, Peru, in South America. She realized on the plane that she was flying out of Spain. She was overwhelmed, anxious, and scared to death. They landed as tourists. Matteo had booked them a tour of the place. Melissa was well-adjusted and was acting normally like a tourist. She would introduce herself as a photographer while Michaella was freaking out. They were constantly being watched. They would often receive texts to act like tourists, or how well they were doing and how simple it was. After a week, they received their package wrapped in porridge packets. They were shocked to see the quantity of the drugs they were about to smuggle. It was estimated to be worth 1.5 million euros (11 kilos of cocaine). This was just the start of the horror story she was about to face. They were both caught at the international airport in Peru. Their story went viral all over. Michaella’s absence had raised concerns in Ibiza too. There were flyers about her missing. Her parents hadn’t heard from her in a week. After their story broke all over the news channels, Parry was asked questions about whether she knew about the whole scandal. During Michaella’s trial, she pleaded that she was doing all this under gunpoint and that she was forced to smuggle all these drugs. The court didn’t believe her plea, but the people wept for her and arranged donations to collect money for her bail. Michaella wasn’t telling the truth and got a 15-year prison sentence. It was then that she realized that she had to give something to the police, something to make them believe her, something that could set her free. So she gave them little details about Julio’s place in Majorca, where they had stayed. Michealla narrated how she worried if what she had given was enough to reduce her sentence or more than enough to get her killed. The series wraps around with narrations from Michaella, a Spanish drug dealer, her Ibizan friends, prosecutors from the court, and a Spanish translator, all of whom provide the instances from Michaella’s case and various possible outcomes of her case. When Michaella accepted her truth of being involved in drug trafficking by her choice, the crowd was angry. The same people who supported her now turned against her.


How Did Michaella Mccollum, A Drug Mule, Become An Inspiration?

Michella’s choice to redeem her life started in Ancón Dos, a Peruvian jail where she was exposed to different horrors. Ancón Dos is a place with a combination of high-profile criminals, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, and many more. She was kept in jail along with 13 other Britishers. Michaella describes the Peruvian jail as toxic, scary, and dangerous. She narrates how she found the prisoners to be sexually active and was scared; what if someone likes her, or maybe worse, what if someone doesn’t like her? She related an incident from her workshops where once a woman sitting beside her came closer and whispered something to her in Spanish. The next thing she knew, that woman took a sharp needle and stabbed another woman in front of her. Michaella was shocked yet relieved that she wasn’t the one stabbed. For months, Michaella lived under the constant fear of getting attacked as a consequence of the information she had shared. It was only after three months that she realized that if someone wanted her, she would have been dead by now. She started taking charge of her situation and her life. She wanted control over her current situation. She remembers how when she first met her cellmate, Miguelina; she felt intimidated. They later came to share a bond as mother and daughter. Michaella approached Miguelina to help her with her Spanish. In return, Michaella would teach her some English. It was because of this that Michaella could survive in prison. Michaella soon found a new job at the Peruvian salon, where she could make money, and that also meant that she wouldn’t have to be part of the terrifying workshops. Her job in the salon made it possible for her to form deeper connections with the prisoners, some of whom later became her friends. Michaella soon stood up for prisoner head elections. She won. She had been there to understand the problems and wanted real change. Her first appeal was for clean water. Within some time, Michaella would be out of prison. She had worked hard to get a trial. After working for about a year, Michaella had enough money to pay for a closer trial. She could now ask for a closer date for her trial. The moment had finally arrived. Michaella tells how the judge thought she was unworthy of any redemption. Michaella had to work so hard to explain to the judge that she wasn’t the same person anymore. She had changed. She was released and is now free. After her release, Michaella helped Melissa with lifting her Parole. Michaella had served two years and three months in prison, taking responsibility for her actions. 

Today, Michaella is a mom of two beautiful children. She now defines herself as a mature and responsible person and how she got a chance to redeem herself. Michaella expressed how strange and free she felt when she was leaving Peru. She felt weird about leaving Peru forever but was relieved to be back home. When she got back, she felt like she was the most hated person on the planet. People would resent her appearance when she stepped out of the airport. She was blonde. Questions were raised as people expected her to look miserable, but she looked as if she had just come out of a salon. 


What Michaella did was dreadful, and that is something she would have to live with forever but what became an inspiration was the way she turned her life, all the things she did to make out of the most horrifying situation in her life. She chose to fight for her freedom and her life. She chose to forgive herself for her poor choice of actions, and rather than feeling sorry for herself; she chose to fight for everything that went wrong in her life.

“High: Confessions of an Ibiza Drug Mule” has been divided into various episodes, elaborating on the different stages of the vicious cycle of drug trafficking. Michella herself, as a narrator, gives an upfront perspective of what went down with her. Michaella’s actions were questioned, and her early release wasn’t received well by the public. In the public’s eye, she might always be guilty, but she deserves a chance at moving forward, and that’s what she did. She made the best of her living opportunities. She lent a hand towards helping out other prisoners. Having an understanding of what had let them into those prisons in the first place, Michaella knew that they needed help. At the end of the series, Michaella gives one last piece of advice: when you are young, and you don’t know it all, you could terribly mess up your life, but you can choose to not let those mistakes define you for the rest of your life.


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Mehak Arora
Mehak Arora
Mehak is a media student currently pursuing her masters in audio and visual production. She is a film enthusiast. She loves to travel. She is a photographer and loves to write about films.

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