A former Tesco worker from Abingdon has admitted trying to smuggle a suitcase full of cocaine worth more than £1m out of South America.

Speaking to us from behind bars in Peru, Nathan Brandon, 21, said it was him — not his travelling companion — who attempted to smuggle 12.3 kilos of the drug into London.

He said Alan Rae, 39, from Faringdon, had been completely unaware of his plans when they were arrested at Lima Airport in April last year.

Both men are being held at Sarita Colonia men’s prison in Callao. They both spoke to us via a prison phone.

Mr Brandon said: “It was me who had the drugs. I admit it. I got caught. Alan had no knowledge whatsoever. He didn’t get caught with anything. They also swabbed his clothes, nothing came back.

“I take complete blame for what happened.”

Mr Brandon, a former trainee supermarket manager and student at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, said he was pressured into taking the drugs by a gang he met at a pub in Lima.

He said: “I went out drinking on my own and met some people I shouldn’t have met — English-speaking Peruvians.

“They told me to take some drugs back and I said no, at first.Then they got heavy because there was quite a few of them and they said they would give me some money, so I said f*** it, why not.”

He claimed the three men offered him £10,000 which he would receive when he reached London.

Mr Brandon said Mr Rae was only arrested because the two men had been travelling on the same electronic ticket and stayed at the same accommodation during their two-week holiday.

He said: “We didn’t plan anything together. That’s the truth.”

Mr Rae, a father-of-two originally from Kidlington, had already passed through immigration when Mr Brandon was stopped. He said: “I came back to see what was going on.

“That was the first time I knew he was carrying cocaine. I wish to God he had told me what was going on because I would have put a stop to it.”

Mr Brandon is expecting to be sentenced in the next couple of months.

The charity Fair Trials International has appointed a case worker to help Mr Rae fight his case.

He said he did not know when he expected to be tried but, if convicted, he faces being sent to the notorious Lurigancho jail for 15 years.

The pair are currently among about 350 foreign prisoners in Sarita Colonia men’s prison.

Mr Rae said they slept on the floor in filthy corridors, unable to afford the $1,500 it costs for a cell, although they were able to watch TV and get books.

He said: “I am just upset because I am not with my family. We have cockroaches crawling over us at night. You are squashed up next to people on the floor. It’s hot and dirty.”

Mr Brandon added: “This place isn’t bad, it’s a living hell.”