Canadian who posted drug smuggling trip on Instagram sentenced to prison

Canadian who posted drug smuggling trip on Instagram sentenced to prison
Posted at 11:23 AM, Apr 19, 2018

One of the two Canadian women who documented a lavish cruise trip to Australia on Instagram as a front for smuggling cocaine has been sentenced to at least four and a half years in prison.

Melina Roberge, along with two accomplices, had embarked on a round-the-world cruise, taking in a number of exotic locations, before the 95 kg (210 lb) haul was discovered on their cruise ship when it docked in Sydney.

Roberge broke down in tears in the courtroom, according to CNN's Australian affiliate Channel 7.

"I was meant to just be there and look like I was on holiday and look like a cover for everyone else," the 24-year-old Canadian said at the sentencing hearing.

"I am really sorry, I should have thought about the consequences and not what I would have gotten for it," she said.

Crown prosecutor Tom Muir told the court that she was aware of her role in the crime, and was using it to support her lavish lifestyle.

"She was not doing it for debt," he said. "It's for the lifestyle she wants to enjoy."

At the time, police told CNN affiliate Channel 7 that the seizure was Australia's biggest-ever drug bust through a "passenger stream."

Accomplice Isabelle Lagacé, as well as a third Canadian, 63-year-old Andre Tamine, also pleaded guilty to charges of importing drugs of a commercial volume into the country. Legace was sentenced to a similar period in November; Tamine will be sentenced later this year.

Roberge and Lagacé appear to have documented much of their trip on Instagram, with a number of photos from exotic locations taken during the period.

At least two photos showing them drinking from coconuts while kneeling in the water at a Tahiti beach in bikinis.

Others show them driving dune buggies in Peru, while another appears to show Roberge getting a leg tattoo in Tahiti. Lagacé is pictured on her own account wearing a necklace made from beads in the shape of marijuana leaves.

The women appear to have also traveled to Bermuda, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia, the posts show.

The images have since been removed from the photo-sharing app.

Prior to her sentencing, Roberge wrote a letter to the court, explaining that she embarked upon the trip to "take photos of myself in exotic locations for likes and attention, and hurt so many people in the process," Channel 7 reported.

Australian Border Force officers boarded the vessel when it berthed in Sydney Harbor in 2016.

Authorities used sniffer dogs to search a number of passenger cabins on the ship. Around 95 kilograms of cocaine was found packed in suitcases, it said. On Facebook, the agency joked that the three "did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes."

Where the women boarded the ship was not immediately clear, but their latest Instagram pictures were posted from Tahiti, three days before the drug bust.