Instagram Star Admits to Smuggling Cocaine Worth Millions on Her Luxury Cruise

A Canadian woman who rose to social media stardom for documenting her trip on a luxury cruise via Instagram has now admitted that she was transporting around $30 million worth of cocaine on her voyage.

Melina Roberge, a 24-year-old from Quebec, pleaded guilty in a court in Australia, where she has been held since her arrest in 2016. Isabelle Lagace, who accompanied Roberge on the cruise, also pleaded guilty last year to assisting in the smuggling operation, saying she had done it to pay off debts. She was sentenced to seven years in prison but could be eligible for parole in 2021. 

Roberge had previously claimed that she didn’t know how the 200 pounds of cocaine had appeared in her possession. She will be sentenced next month.

Drug trafficking laws in Australia are especially stringent, and people found guilty of drug smuggling can spend up to life in prison.

“A number of laws are employed for sanctioning alleged drug traffickers in Australia, but most jurisdictions also have laws to sanction solely on the weight of the drug found,” according to a report by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia.

“The weight of the drugs determines whether the person is charged with a use/possess offense (diversion into treatment, fine, bond) or a supply offense (up to 21-25 years or life imprisonment, depending on the jurisdiction),” the report continued.

In a separate case in 2017, one Belgian national and three French nationals were similarly arrested after Australian police discovered around 66 pounds of cocaine on their docked cruise ship. The police frequently search cruise ships that dock in Sydney.

Roberge and Lagace had posted numerous pictures of themselves on their cruise, including in the U.S., Colombia, Bermuda and Chile. They often appeared in bikinis, lounging in pools or taking selfies together. It wasn’t until they reached Australia that they were snagged for drug smuggling.