Former porn star Isabelle Lagacé, aka “Izabel”, today entered a guilty plea for cocaine smuggling.
Canadian born Lagacé and Melina Roberge were part of a seven-member drug cartel aboard the MS Sea Princess as it cruised from New York via Tahiti to Sydney carrying nearly a ton of of cocaine, a court heard today.
Mélina Roberge and Isabelle Lagacé seemed to be having the time of their lives as they cruised the world
Isabelle Lagacé, also known as “Izabel”, in the adult entertainment industry. Her story unfolded after her arrest on drug smuggling charges
The women, from Quebec, had boarded the luxury cruise ship in Southampton in June.
They were an integral part of a “floating warehouse” of drugs, having stashed 29kg of it in a suitcase in their tiny shared cabin, it was alleged.
In another cabin, the third co-accused in Australia’s biggest drug importation by passenger vessel Andre Tamine, 64, allegedly had up to 70kg in three suitcases.
Four men who were part of the alleged drug operation were also on board as the cruise ship sailed towards Australia, the court heard.
Standing alone during her trial, the Canadian porn star pled guilty to smuggling cocaine worth $31 million.
In a seperate trial another defendant in the case, evidence given during a committal hearing for Mélina Roberge alleged she was a knowing participant in the attempt to import the cocaine in commercial quantity into Australia, in August this year, reports News.com.au
No love lost: Isabelle Lagacé and Mélina Roberge stashed over 30kg of cocaine in their cabin aboard. their partner, Andre Tamine, had 70KG of the drug in his own cabin. Roberge is claiming to have absolutely no knowledge of the the drug run – blames the whole debacle on Lagacé
Almost a ton of ‘coke’ in the luggage. Australian authorities say the cocaine has a street value of almost $31 million
Earlier on Friday, Magistrate Robert Williams committed the third defendant Andre Tamine to stand trial on February 3, after he waived his right to have a committal hearing.
Lagacé entered a plea of guilty to the charge of attempting to import a commercial quantity of cocaine and will be sentenced on the same date.
The maximum penalty for smuggling a commercial quantity of cocaine, a federal offence in Australia, is life imprisonment.
Roberge ‘s attorney, Ragni Mathur, contended that her client was unaware of the cocaine in her friend’s luggage in the cabin they shared. Four male passengers had traveled with the three accused on the cruise, Mathur said.
Mathur also told the court that Roberge had booked her ticket for the trip with another man who was not associated with the criminal enterprise behind the drug deal. Whereas, Isabelle Lagacé and Andre Tamine had booked their cruise, together, Ms Mathur.
The cruise visited Colombia, French Polynesia Chile, Peru and New Zealand.
Mélina Roberge, claims the case against her is at best circumstantial – has pled not guilty to commercial drug importation charges
Mathur told the court her client [Roberge] should escape being committed for trial because she was only guilty by her association with her cabin mate.
CCTV footage of Roberge embarking and disembarking the Sea Princess, had her declaring “nothing in her possession except a wallet or mobile phone”.
Whereas Lagacé, who carried both an iPhone and BlackBerry, known as a device “that is impossible to decode”, had allegedly told investigators “you won’t be getting that” when they asked for its password.
Ms Mathur said that Lagacé had also admitted at one point that she owned the suitcase in which cocaine was later found.
Crown Prosecutor Lincoln Crowley told the court that although the Crown case against Roberge was circumstantial, she and Lagacé had travelled for more than a month in a tiny ship’s cabin in which there was a suitcase packed with almost 30kg of cocaine.
“The cocaine, 29kg of it, was found in a cabin occupied by Ms Roberge and Ms Lagacé for the past 40 days, packed up, strapped up, taped up and sitting in a suitcase and would be worth a considerable amount of money,” Mr Crowley told the court.
“Two women are minding the cocaine. Lagacé and Roberge are warehousing a quantity of cocaine.
“It is in effect a floating warehouse. They are sitting on this until they get to Australia.”
Mr Crowley said the drug found in a Swiss suitcase in the girls’ cabin was in layers of ziplock plastic bags tied up with masking tape.
Split by the specter of a life sentence: Mélina Roberge has thrown Isabelle Lagacé, right under the proverbial bus. She claims almost 30kg of cocaine found in a suitcase in their cabin belongs to Lagacé, alone
Selfie addict Mélina Roberge flaunts her sneakers and passport aboard the cruise ship
Roberge in one of many bikini-clad Instagram photos from the drug smuggling cruise
He said the larger amount of cocaine allegedly found in Mr Tamine’s cabin was similarly packaged inside three suitcases.
Again Mathur, defense attorney for Roberge, contended that despite the fact that her client was friends with her travelling companion Lagacé, it did not mean she knew about the narco-smuggling enterprise.
“You don’t need two chickens to keep warm a golden egg,” she said.
The court’s decision on whether or not to commit Roberge to trial is scheduled for December 21.