April 18 (UPI) — A Canadian woman who helped smuggle $21 million worth of cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship — and shared photos of her exotic travels online — was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday.
Melina Roberge was one of three Canadians who pleaded guilty to importing more than 200 pounds of cocaine on a luxury cruise liner in August 2016.
Roberge cried in court Wednesday as she was given a longer maximum than a co-defendant received for an earlier guilty plea.
Roberge, dubbed “cocaine babe” in news media, will serve a minimum of four years and nine months in prison. Her earliest release date is May 2021.
Judge Kate Traill said in court Roberge had become “seduced by the lifestyle and opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world.”
“It is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in society to seem to get self-worth relative to posts on Instagram,” she continued. “It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence where how many likes they receive are their currency.
“This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women.”
Roberge said she’d been recruited by a “sugar daddy” for the plot, in which the 24-year-old stood to earn as much as $100,000. In June 2016, she was a last-minute replacement for the cruise on the MS Sea Princess.
Prosecutors said Roberge and Isabelle Lagace were given first-class tickets on the vessel and spending money, and Roberge was told she would act as a decoy. She was encouraged to post photos on social media to show off the lavish trip.
The Sea Princess stopped in Bermuda, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Tahiti before arriving in Sydney.
It’s believed the cocaine was taken aboard during a port stop in Peru. Authorities found the drugs packed into suitcases.