“Cocaine Babe” Who Smuggled Drugs For Instagram Likes Heads To Prison

By Paul Fuhr 04/20/18

Melina Roberge received an eight-year sentence for her role in the attempt to smuggle $16 million in cocaine into Australia.

Melina Roberge and Isabelle Lagace
Melina Roberge and Isabelle Lagace Photo via YouTube

Canadian cocaine smuggler and aspiring jet-setter, Melina Roberge, was sentenced to eight years in an Australian prison this week.

Alongside former porn star Isabelle Lagace, Roberge helped smuggle over 200 pounds of cocaine in suitcases on a two-month pleasure cruise in 2016.

Nicknamed “Cocaine Babe” in headlines, Roberge documented their entire drug-smuggling vacation via her Instagram account, which many people believe is the reason she took part in the operation in the first place.

Roberge and Lagace posted an endless stream of selfies during their glamorous trip aboard the MS Sea Princess, which traveled to 11 countries before docking in Sydney, Australia.

Roberge broke down in tears in an Australian court when she was sentenced for her role in smuggling the drugs. Roberge will serve at least four years and nine months of her sentence, The Washington Post reported

Roberge and Lagace were both offered first-class tickets worth $20,000, in addition to $5,000 of spending money, to get the drugs to Australia. (Australia has the highest drug prices in the world, given its geographical distance from everywhere else.)

If everything went off without a hitch, she’d have earned an extra $100,000.

Roberge, however, wasn’t in it entirely for the money.

“She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world,” New South Wales Judge Kate Traill said. “She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.”

The MS Sea Princess sailed through Canada, the U.S., Ireland, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and New Zealand before docking in Sydney, where the Australian Border Force seized a record-breaking haul of cocaine worth $16 million. (It was “the largest seizure in Australia of narcotics carried by passengers of a cruise ship or airliner,” the CBC reported.)

Before that, however, Roberge and Lagace posted dozens of bikini-clad photos of themselves in countless exotic locales. 

During Roberge’s hearing, Judge Traill didn’t mince words about her motivations: “It is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in society to seem to get self-worth relative to posts on Instagram,” she said. “This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women. It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence, where how many ‘likes’ they receive is their currency.”

For her part in the affair, Roberge referred to herself as “a stupid young woman” in an affidavit that was admitted to the court. “I have devastated so many people in the process,” she wrote.

The smuggling operation aboard the Sea Princess involved Roberge, Lagace and a 65-year-old Canadian man named André Tamine—a trio that both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency identified as “high-risk passengers” among the 1,800 aboard the vessel.

Authorities are still trying to determine where, exactly, the drugs found their away aboard the cruise liner, though many signs point toward Colombia or Peru.

Isabelle Lagace was the first to plead guilty (in 2016) and will likely be released from prison in 2021.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.