Youngest of Canadian trio caught smuggling cocaine into Australia says she was ‘recruited by sugar daddy’ , and she smuggled drugs for Instagram likes and glam life
Mélina Roberge, 24, along with porn star pal Isabelle Lagacé, 30, and Andre Tamine, 66, have been charged with importing 95kg of cocaine into Australia, aboard a luxury cruise ship
She was mainly motivated to carry out the drug operation so she could live the fabulous life and get “likes and attention” on her Instagram posts
She would earn $100,000 from the $30million cocaine plot for the cartel, which had links in Peru
She was recruited for the trade in Morocco, two years ago, by her sugar daddy had been flown first class and “showered with gifts” before turning her into an international ‘narco-escort’
Weeping, Roberge apologized to “the people of Australia”, “Since I have been in jail I have come across people struggling with addiction,” and “I don’t want to be part of that”
Her co-conspirator Isabelle Lagacé received a “lenient” seven-year sentence after agreeing to a plea bargain in 2017
Roberge facing life in prison may not be so lucky, prosecutors argued she’s been uncooperative, therefore not entitled to a significant reduction in sentence
She would not reveal the name of “my sugar daddy”, who is “known to authorities” because she fears for the safety of family and friends back in Canada
My “sugar daddy” talked me into it! Mélina Roberge, the youngest of the Canadian drug-mule trio finally confesses
On Wednesday, Roberge emerged from a prison cell to appear at her sentencing hearing in Sydney, where she told the court that she was mainly motivated to carry out the drug operation so she could live the fabulous life and get “likes and attention” on her Instagram posts, reports News.com.au.
The Sydney court heard that Melina Roberge, 24, stood to earn a possible $100,000 from the $21m cocaine plot and had been flown first class and “showered with gifts” before the drug cruise.
Blinded by the lure of glamour: Mélina Roberge, 24, is being sentenced after confessing she was seduced by the good life
Roberge and her drug running companion, the former porn star Isabel leLagacé, 30, made international headlines after their arrest when glamorous Instagram photographs of them at exotic cruise stops emerged.
Roberge, along with Lagacé, and another French Canadian, 64-year-old Andre Tamine, stashed $30million worth of cocaine in four suitcases in two cabins aboard the super luxury cruise ship.
The trio had crisscrossed the globe on a six-week “trip of a lifetime”, embarking at Southampton in England and stopping at New York, South America and Tahiti en route to Sydney.
Ex-porn star Isabelle Lagacé [right], had already taken a plea for her role in the caper while MMélina Roberge [left] maintained her innocence
Once on the cruise, she shared a cabin with former porn star Isabelle Lagacé, 30, who earlier took a plea deal on attendant charges and has since been jailed.
Finally elocuting on her role in the drug smuggling scheme, Wednesday, Roberge admitted that the 95kg of cocaine was collected by other members of the cocaine syndicate when the MS Sea Princess stopped in Peru.
She was appearing at her sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to trafficking a total of 95kg cocaine importation that was found stashed in the cabin she shared with Lagacé.
Giving detail, the 24-year-old from Toronto said her “sugar daddy” recruited her and Lagacé after they were flown free of charge on an all-expenses-paid trip to Morocco in May 2016.
After working as ‘narco-escorts’, she returned home to Canada with 10,000 euro in cash. Roberge said she had been offered another drug importation role, but had turned it down. Eventually she had agreed to the cruise ship plot because she and Lagacé were hired to be the glamorous foil for the real business of the drug importation.
The MS Sea Princess on which the three Canadians carried 95kg of cocaine.
“I was meant to be there and look like I was on vacation and look like a cover for everyone else,” Roberge said. “They said it was two females together who were looking to be on vacation.”
She reportedly disclosed the secret drug plan to her boyfriend and to a female friend while the women were having their nails done.
As she was declaring her total ignorance of a possible drug smuggling plot in Sidney, investigators were uncovering text messages revealing her then boyfriend, Jo, had argued with her before she left on the drug cruise.
“We fight all the time because of your f***ing drug trip,” he texted Roberge.
She texted back, alarmed, saying “holy s**t” and that she couldn’t believe he had put the forthcoming trip in a text message.
Roberge also told a friend Charlotte about the trip at a nail salon.
Later interviewed by police, Charlotte claimed Roberge said she was getting $100,000 for her role in the syndicate.
Roberge admitted she was seduced by the bright lights of a glamorous life style
She would not reveal the name of “my sugar daddy”, who was “known to authorities” because she feared for the safety of family and friends back in Canada, Roberge testified.
Wearing flawless make-up and her long brunette hair up in a bun, Roberge was brought from the cells on Wednesday after arriving by prison van to the Sydney Downing Centre Court.
Roberge smiled at her mother, Chantelle Duguay, who was in court on her fourth trip to Australia since her daughter was arrested in August 2016. Curiuosly during the sentencing Duguay loked at her daughter sitting in the court dock, and mouthed that she looked “belle”, which is the French word for beautiful.
Mélina Roberge and Isabelle Lagacé: Just two girls looking for a vacation and travelling the world aboard the MS Sea Princess
“I was meant to be there and look like I was on vacation and look like a cover for everyone else,” Roberge told the court.
“They said it was two females together who were looking to be on vacation.”
They documented their glitzy journey on the luxury cruise ship MS Sea Princess around the globe, spanning South America, the US and the Pacific, on Instagram. In August 2016, they were caught with 209 pounds of cocaine in their cabin.
Agreeing wite the prosecution contention that she was seduced by the ‘Good life’, Roberge agreed she was indeed motivated to get “likes and attention” from her Instagram posts. She had been “excited” about taking the luxury trip which she otherwise could not have afforded. She boarded the cruise with 4000 euros in expenses from her “sugar daddy” but had spent most of it by the time she reached Sydney, she said.
Lagacé and Melina posted copiously on social media: The coke smuggling operation was disguised to look like ‘I was on vacation and provide a cover for everyone else’
Now she regrets her quest for Instagram stardom.
She told the court that she had been working in the privileged prison job of sweeper at the Sydney women’s jail where is currently incarcerated, the former Instagram star told the court.
Roberge wept as she made an apology in court to “the people of Australia”.
“Since I have been in jail I have come across people struggling with addiction,” she said, sobbing. “I don’t want to be part of that.”
Lagacé agreed to a “lenient” seven-year sentence after agreeing to a plea bargain in 2017. Roberge could face life in prison, and may not be so lucky.
The prosecution argued she been uncooperative, therefore was not entitled to a significant reduction in sentence, seeing as she had been prepared to contest her guilt at a trial, until recently. In truth Muir said, the defendant was more than a drug mule, but “an intimate part of an elaborate scheme”.
However, her attorney Avni Djemal argued that his client had a minor role in the drug smugglingplot, her fingerprints were not on any of the drug packages in the four suitcases, Djemal said
Sentencing is scheduled for a later date.