24-year-old 'Cocaine Babe' receives lengthy prison sentence
Melina Roberge, the glamorous cocaine importer who broadcast her extravagant lifestyle on social media, has received her prison sentence.
The Canadian woman reportedly helped to smuggle cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship, and was one of three people to plead guilty to the import of 95 kg of drugs on the MS Sea Princess. The court heard how Roberge had agreed to pose as a tourist on the trip in exchange for a sizeable amount of cash.
According to the judge on the case, Roberge was motivated by the chance to post "glamorous" travel photos on her social media channels.
The police discovered $16 million of cocaine in cabins on the ship in August 2016, after it had docked in Sydney following a trip around the world. Three people were arrested and charged with the smuggling - Melina Roberge, 25, Isabelle Lagacé, 29 and Andre Tamine, 64.
Tamine is yet to receive his sentencing for his role in the operation, but Roberge and Lagacé face eight and seven-and-a-half years in prison respectively.
According to Australian Authorities, the drug seizure was the largest that Australia has ever had on a commercial boat or plane.
Issuing the sentences on Wednesday, New South Wales District Court Judge Kate Traill said she accepted that Roberge was genuinely remorseful and had a good chance of rehabilitation.
Traill said that Roberge was guilty of "vacuous" decision-making, with the judge saying that she had been influenced by seeking validation online.
"It is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in society to seem to get self-worth relative to posts on Instagram," Traill said while addressing a sometimes tearful Roberge;
"It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence where how many likes they receive are their currency.
"She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world.
"This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women."
During the sentencing submissions last month, Roberge revealed that her "sugar daddy" had recruited her and Lagacé after she had earned $12,400 working as an escort in Morocco. It's been reported that Roberge was pimped by her "sugar daddy" prior to taking on the drug smuggling mission.
According to court documents, the then-22-year-old was repeatedly given gifts and money by the man, and "if I was interested," she would sleep with other men.
Roberge and Lagacé were given first-class tickets worth $20,000 and $4,900 spending money to spend on the boat. The 24-year-old was told that she would be acting as a decoy and was encouraged "to take pictures of myself in exotic locations and post them on Instagram to receive 'likes.'"
Roberge has made an apology in court to "the people of Australia" and said that since being in jail, "I have come across people struggling with addiction. I don’t want to be part of that."
Hopefully, her time behind bars will bring about a period of self-reflection and she will leave on the right path.