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Women Charged In $22 Million Dollar Coke Smuggling Bust Stunning On Instagram
The holiday photos look like two young woman on a dream trip cruising around the world, not two alleged drug mules working for an international drug syndicate.
Seven weeks ago, Canadian national Melina Roberge made a gloating post on social media from Toronto airport as she was about to fly to the UK.
"Let's do it again .... #london." she captioned a photo of her passport and boarding pass that she posted on Instagram.
Over the next seven weeks she made more than two dozen posts of her and her travelling companion Isabelle Lagace, 28, while they were aboard the cruise ship the Sea Princess.
Ms Roberge and Ms Lagace shared photos sunbaking on the cruise ship deck, standing in New York's Time Square and then tropical waters off Bermuda.
There are pictures with local children in Peru, in colourful cobblestone laneways in Chile, walking the streets of Colombia, drinking from coconuts in Tahiti and getting tattoos in French Polynesia.
The tattoo photo is captioned with "#dumbanddumber"
But on day 51 - when the 68-day cruise berthed in Sydney en route to its final destination in Fremantle - the Australian Federal Police were waiting.
A search of two passenger cabins by Australian Border Force officers uncovered locked suitcases full of 95 kilograms of 🤬 .
The discovery led police to charge Ms Roberge and Ms Lagance, as well as their fellow Canadian traveller Andre Tamine, 63 with trying to import the drugs into Australia.
The Australian Border Force said the three were allegedly working with a "very well organised syndicate".
The Instagram accounts of both women are publicly accessible for anyone to view.
"Traveling is one thing ... But traveling with an open mind, ready to taste everything, see everything, learn everything and get yourself out of your comfort zone .. Is probably the best therapy and lesson ever," Ms Roberge captioned one post from the cruise ship.
"I used to be afraid to get out of my little town and now I feel like I don't want to see that little town anymore cause it's beautiful out there and it's sooo worth it."
All three Canadian nationals appeared in Sydneys' Central Local Court on Monday charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
They did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.
The Australian Federal Police said they had been working with counterparts in the US, Canada and New Zealand.
The seized drugs have an estimated street value of $31 million and this is the largest drug bust of its type on board a cruise ship.
While authorities would not disclose where the 🤬 originated from it is believed it was destined for the Australian market with the cruise due to finish in Fremantle.
All three Canadian nationals are believed to have been allegedly working for an overseas drug syndicate.
"These syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs in our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them," Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner Clive Murray said.
One of the suitcases uncovered on the cruise ship
One of the suitcases uncovered on the cruise ship. Photo: Department of Immigration and Border Protection
The Australian Federal Police have not ruled out making further arrests and say the investigation is on going.n going.
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