By James Law
Accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury has reached a deal with Colombian authorities for a reduced sentence, a source has confirmed to news.com.au.
The South Australian woman, who is accused of trying to smuggle 5.8kg of cocaine out of Bogota airport in her suitcase, has reached a "pre-agreement" with the Colombian Fiscalia, or attorney-general.
A judge will decide whether he accepts the deal when she appears before court in the Colombian capital on Wednesday, local time.
Sainsbury is facing 20 years in jail if she is found guilty of smuggling 5.8kg of cocaine inside 18 headphone cases.
The Fiscalia source, who spoke to news.com.au on the condition of anonymity, indicated that Sainsbury had admitted to the authority's version of events in order to strike the deal.
"Generally, pre-agreements are realised when the captured person accepts something of what the Fiscalia has accused them of, the benefit of which could be a reduction in penalty," the Fiscalia source told news.com.au in comments translated from Spanish.
"In the case of Cassie, they will only know in the hearing tomorrow what the agreement is.
"At the end of the hearing, the judge will say whether or not he approves of the agreement."
If the judge agrees to the deal, which includes an agreed reduced sentence, a new court date will be set for formal sentencing.
If the judge does not approve of the deal, he has the option to send both Sainsbury's defence lawyers and the Fiscalia back to negotiation to "improve the agreement", according to the source.
According to The Australian, the 22-year-old's deal may see her serve as little as three and a half years in prison.
Sainsbury has claimed via her lawyers that she smuggled the drugs because a mystery drug cartel threatened to kill her and her family.
She had "fallen victim to an international drug trafficking syndicate" that "threatened her life and the life of her family if she did not comply with their demands", according to documents lodged by her Australian lawyers in a failed attempt to stop Channel 7 from broadcasting its interview with her fiance, Scott Broadbridge.
News.com.au asked whether the Fiscalia had seen any evidence to support this explanation, but the source said all would be revealed in court.
"If there are threats and more investigations, all that will be resolved tomorrow at the hearing," the source said.
Sainsbury has been behind bars in a maximum security jail in Bogota since her arrest in April.
A former personal trainer, Sainsbury was caught with the bags of cocaine in her luggage at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota on April 11.
So far, the 22-year-old has denied wrongdoing but, behind the scenes, authorities are attempting to find out who Sainsbury worked for, The Advertiser of Adelaide has reported.
Colombian authorities are demanding to know who supplied the drugs found in her luggage and want more details of the failed trafficking operation.
According to the The Advertiser, without that information prosecutors will not honour any plea bargain, which would potentially reduce a 20-year sentence to about four years.
If she does go through with the deal though, it could mean she has to enter a witness protection programme to protect her from revenge attacks by members of the drug cartel.
Sainsbury had been on her way to the United Kingdom on April 11 when she was prevented from boarding. At first, she had claimed she bought the headphones as gifts for her bridal party.