A Canadian woman who recently pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine aboard a glamorous ‘round-the-world cruise admitted in court on Wednesday that she was partly doing it for Instagram likes.
During her sentencing hearing in Sydney, Melina Roberge, 24, informed the court that she accepted the gig as a glamorous “cover” for the drug-smuggling operation after a man she described as “my sugar daddy” offered her money, trips and gifts, News.com.au reports.
In addition to the ritzy perks of the job, the court also heard that Roberge enjoyed “tak[ing] photos of myself in exotic locations for ‘likes’ and attention,” according to the Associated Press.
Roberge and her cruise companion Isabelle Lagacé — whom the Australian and British media dubbed “the cocaine babes” due to their penchant for posting bikini photos along the voyage — were arrested in Aug. 2016 following a 51-day Princess cruise from the U.K. to Sydney aboard the Sea Princess. Another passenger, Andre Tamine, 63, was also arrested in connection with the incident.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) became suspicious of the trio while observing the Sea Princess, which was under observation due to its many ports of call between the U.K. and Sydney, the Telegraph reported. The ABF later boarded and searched the ship upon docking in Sydney after authorities identified Roberge, Lagacé and Tamine as “high risk travelers.”
Officials discovered 77 pounds of cocaine in Roberge and Lagacé’s shared cabin, and an additional 130 pounds in Tamine’s room, together estimated to be worth anywhere between $21.5 million and $30 million.
Roberge further told the court that she and Lagace, whom News.com.au identified as a 29-year-old former Canadian porn star, were recruited by the unidentified “sugar daddy” to serve as foils for the operation. The two had also worked as escorts for the “sugar daddy” in Morocco prior to taking the gig on the cruise, according to the site.
“I was meant to just be there and look like I was on holiday and look like a cover for everyone else,” Roberge told the court of her role on the cruise.
Lagacé was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty in Nov. 2017. At her sentencing, she claimed she participated in the operation as a means of paying back a $20,000 debt she owed.
Roberge and Tamine pleaded guilty to similar charges this past February. During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, however, Roberge’s lawyer claimed she only played a minor role in the scheme, News.com.au reports.