'Cocaine babe' says she did it for Instagram likes

Saul Bowman
April 20, 2018

A Canadian woman on Wednesday was sentenced to prison in Australia after she was convicted of trying to import millions of dollars worth of drugs on an Australian-bound luxury cruise ship. The MS Sea Princess-which sailed through Ireland, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Colombia, and Peru- docked in Sydney, Australia, where it was raided by the Australian Border Force, leading to the eventual discovery of Roberge and her suitcase full of cocaine.

Police with sniffer dogs found 35kg of cocaine in their cabin on 28 August, 2016, when the liner, operated by California-based Princess Cruises, berthed in Sydney.

Isabelle Lagace, Roberge's accomplice and cabin mate, was sentenced in November to 7 1/2 years in prison.

The third co-accused, Andre Tamine, 65, has also pleaded guilty to his role in the attempted smuggling and will be sentenced later this year.

Roberge was reportedly recruited by her wealthy Canadian "sugar daddy" with the promise of an expensive vacation. The sugar daddy was never identified, CBS News says, with the trio fearing for their families back home. Her remorse, thought, was not enough to secure her a kinder sentence: Roberge was sentence to a minimum of four years and nine months in prison, with a maximum of eight years.

"This is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in our society who seem to get self-worth by likes on Instagram which can make them a marketable commodity", Judge Traill said. "I don't want to be part of that", she said. "I doubt she is now".

Canadian drug mule Melina Roberge dubbed "cocaine babe" by Australian media will be eligible for parole in May 2021.

He invited her on a trip to Morocco in May 2016 where she worked as an escort, and it was on this trip that he first asked her to be involved in the drug-smuggling trip.

Traill said the then 22-year-old was "there to look pretty", acting as a decoy to the drug dealing below deck. Roberge said she believed the cocaine was brought on board during their stop in Peru.

Roberge and her travel companion Isabelle Lagace posted glamorous pictures of their travels on social media in bikinis and enjoying cocktails.

Roberge and Lagace were flown first-class to the United Kingdom to take the cruise and given first-class cruise tickets worth $20,000.

The haul was a record for cocaine smuggled in luggage through an Australian air or sea port.

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