Cruise visitor jailed in Australia
A female drugs mule who travelled through Bermuda on a luxury cruise liner has been jailed in Australia for eight years.
Melina Roberge was caught with 95 kilograms of cocaine when the MS Sea Princess docked in Sydney on the last leg of an around-the-world cruise, which included a stop in Bermuda.
Roberge, 24, from Quebec, Canada was dubbed “cocaine babe” after she was arrested. She documented her voyage on Instagram, including photographs of herself and accomplice Isabelle Lagace on South Shore beaches, when the ship visited the island in July 2016.
Judge Kate Traill of the New South Wales District Court, who sentenced Roberge on Wednesday, said: “She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photographs from around the world.
“She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.”
Roberge, who pleaded guilty to the offence, and Lagace, also from Canada, used Instagram as a travel diary and to post holiday snaps on the cruise, which visited 17 ports in 11 countries.
Pictures of the island included captions like: “Bermuda was amazing,” and “Gone to a place very peaceful, leave a message after the tone”.
The Sea Princess, which started its voyage in England, visited New York before heading to Bermuda for one day and sailing to Colombia.
Sydney was the penultimate port for the ship, which was scheduled to end its 68-day cruise in Fremantle, Western Australia.
Australian Federal Police and border agents boarded and searched the ship when it docked in Sydney Harbour.
They found 35 kilograms of cocaine in the women’s cabin and 60 kilograms in a cabin occupied by Andre Tamin, a wealthy Canadian man in his mid-60s who Roberge called her “sugar daddy”.
The Australian Border Force said the two women had so much cocaine in their suitcases “they did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes.”
Roberge told the court that she was an escort and met Tamin on a job in 2015 and he invited her to go on a drug-smuggling trip to Morocco the next year.
She added that she had put her freedom at risk for “some selfies in exotic locations and posted them on Instagram to receive some ‘likes’ and attention”.
All three were charged with commercial cocaine importation, which carries a maximum life sentence.
Roberge will serve at least four years and nine months before she is eligible for parole, when she will be deported to Canada.
Lagace, 29, was sentenced to 7˝ years in prison at the end of last year.
Tamin is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
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