Drug runner Melina Roberge has been sentenced to eight years in prison, with a non-parole period of four years and nine months.
24-year-old Roberge and 29-year-old Isabelle Lagace, both from Canada, shared glamorous photos of their extensive travels over social media; which took them to destinations such as the US, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Australia.
Former porn actress Lagace has also been imprisoned for a minimum of four and half years for transporting class A drugs, facing a maximum sentence of seven and a half years.
A 64-year-old man, Andrew Tamine, has also pleaded guilty to charges of importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, but has yet to be sentenced.
The two young women from Canada admitted to their part in a major drug smuggling operation after their lavish Instagram pics gave the game away, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Roberge and Lagace were arrested in Sydney on board the MS Sea Princess cruise ship for trying to smuggle £21 million worth of cocaine.
In what was one of the biggest drug raids in Australian history, police sniffer dogs detected 95 kilograms of cocaine hidden aboard the ship.
Border officials discovered nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine in a suitcase inside Roberge and Lagace’s cabin while up to 70 kilograms of cocaine was discovered within three suitcases inside Tamine’s cabin.
Speaking at the trial, NSW District Court judge Kate Traill spoke of how Roberge had been motivated by wanting to spark envy in others:
She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.
This is a sad indictment on her relative age group in our society.
It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence, where how many ‘likes’ they receive is their currency.
This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women.
Judge Traill added:
I hope she includes the pitfalls of seeking ‘likes’ on Instagram in the pursuit of self-worth.
Roberge’s life of crime began back in early 2015 when she met her ‘sugar daddy’ in Montreal. He treated her to gifts and fine dining, and would introduce her to his friends.
In an affidavit before the court, former jewellery store manager Roberge said:
Occasionally, when we would attend nightclubs together, he would introduce me to some of his friends, and if I was interested I would spend time with some of these men. Sometimes there would be intimacy but not always. Sometimes I would accept money from them but not always.
After working as an escort, the sugar daddy lured her into a high risk drug plot whereby her and others would pose as travellers on board a cruise ship.
Roberge was given €4,000 spending money as well as the costs involved with the worldwide trip, with the first class tickets costing $20,000.
Roberge spoke of her regret at the devastation she caused in her affidavit:
I was a stupid young woman who was governed by a superficial desire to take pictures of myself in exotic locations and post them on Instagram to receive likes and attention, and I have devastated so many people in the process,
Lagace has previously said:
I have embarrassed my family, my friends, myself.
It pains me to know that my defining years of womanhood will be spent in prison halfway around the world.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.