A convicted drug importer known for her lavish Instagram photos has been sentenced to prison in Australia for helping smuggle $21 million worth of cocaine into the country.
Melina Roberge will serve a maximum of eight years in prison, according to the Washington Post. The sentence carries a mandatory minimum of four years and nine months, meaning that her earliest release date could be May 2021.
The 24-year-old Roberge, a Canada native who became known in Australian media as “Cocaine Babe,” wept as she learned her fate.
Roberge was known as an Instagram influencer, posting stylish photos of herself and her friends in luxurious surroundings. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that she was lured into drug smuggling by an older man she called her “sugar daddy.”
It all came to an end in July 2016, when she accepted a free trip on the Sea Princess, a luxury cruise liner that made stops in several countries in the southern hemisphere, including Colombia, Peru, New Zealand and Australia, reports CBS.
When the ship docked, authorities raided the boat and arrested three Canadians, including Roberge, for importing 209 pounds of cocaine. According to the New York Post, she stood to earn $100,000 from the plot.
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Roberge and her two friends — Isabelle Lagace, 29, and Andrew Tamine, 63 — were jailed and charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. All three have pleaded guilty. Lagace has been sentenced to at least 4½ years for transporting the substance, with a maximum term of 7½ years. Tamine is still awaiting sentencing.
In court on Wednesday, Judge Kate Traill of the New South Wales District Court acknowledged that Roberge seemed to be genuinely remorseful and had “a good chance of rehabilitation.”
Then the judge criticized Roberge, saying she was motivated to go on the cruise by the idea of posting Instagram photos in exotic locations, the Morning Herald reported.
“This is a sad indictment on her relative age group in our society,” the judge said. “It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence, where how many ‘likes’ they receive is their currency.”
She added, “This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women.”