When she was first recruited by her “sugar daddy,” 24-year-old Melina Roberge wanted nothing to do with his plans.
The mystery man — the identity of whom she says she will not divulge because she fears for her safety — wanted her to help smuggle more than $30 million worth of cocaine into Australia, reported the Toronto Star.
She balked — but then he explained how they would do it. It would be a “trip of a lifetime” on the Sea Princess, a cruise ship that would leave England and traipse around South America, the United States and across the Pacific, the paper reported.
She and another Canadian women decided to take the trip — and later became known as the “Cocaine Babes” or “Cocaine Cowgirls.”
Australian authorities caught them weeks later, pulling 95 kilograms of cocaine from their suitcases with the help of drug dogs, reported the Toronto Star.
Roberge, who pleaded guilty to a drug smuggling charge in February, was expected to net around $100,000 for working the job, but she told the court she signed on not for the money, but because she was driven to “take photos of [herself] in exotic locations for likes and attention,” reported The Australian.
She got the “likes” indeed. The women posted photos in bikinis, riding ATVs and sipping from coconuts, along with other sun-drenched selfies.
When they were first arrested, they denied knowing anything about the drugs, reported the National Post, but changed their stories in an attempt to secure lighter sentencing.
Roberge told the court she was not involved in dealing any of the drugs and was merely supposed to “be there and look like I was on vacation and look like a cover for everyone else,” according to news.com.au.
“Since I have been in jail I have come across people struggling with addiction,” she told the court, according to the site. “I don’t want to be part of that. I am really sorry, I should have thought about the consequences and not what I would have gotten for it.”
One of Roberge’s accomplices, Isabelle Lagace, pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to at least four and a half years in prison after admitting to take the job to clear a $20,000 debt, reported 9 News.
Another accomplice, Andre Tamine, also pleaded guilty, though he has yet to be sentenced, the station reported.
The Australian reports that Roberge’s barrister said Roberge was “one of the most co-operative prisoners in the system” who stands a good chance at being rehabilitated. She has yet to be sentenced.