Canadian drug mule 'recruited by sugar daddy as decoy' in $21 million cocaine smuggling

Rebecca Gredley

A Canadian drug mule says she was recruited by her "sugar daddy" to be a decoy in a group who tried to smuggle $21 million worth of cocaine into Australia.

Melina Roberge, 24, in February pleaded guilty on the eve of her trial to "joint commission, import commercial quantity of border controlled drug" in relation to the record narcotics haul found on board a luxury cruise ship that docked in Sydney in August 2016.

"I was meant to just be there and look like I was on holiday and look like a cover for everyone else", Roberge said at her sentencing hearing at the NSW District Court on Wednesday.

Roberge was one of three arrested, and one of her accomplices, Isabelle Lagace, in November was sentenced to at least four and a half years in jail after admitting she tried to smuggle 30 kilograms of cocaine to clear a $20,000 debt.

Canadian Melina Roberge has pleaded guilty. Source: Instagram/ Melina Roberge

Andre Tamine has also pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced later this year.

Roberge told the court she initially said no when her "sugar daddy" asked her to carry drugs on the cruise, but then agreed when told she could enjoy a free holiday in helping the group.

"Other people would be there to look after the drugs," she said.

She began to cry when saying that she made the decision without thinking about the consequences, and said she had since met people in jail who struggle with drug addictions.

"I do not want to be part of that. I want to be able to help them.

The suitcase found on board the luxury cruise ship. Source: AAP

"I am really sorry, I should have thought about the consequences and not what I would have gotten for it."

Crown prosecutor Tom Muir told her she was aware of what she was doing, and that she was aware that the drugs were in her cruise ship cabin.

"She was not doing it for debt," he told the court.

"It's for the lifestyle she wants to enjoy."

In a letter to the court, Roberge wrote that she was propelled by a desire to "take photos of myself in exotic locations for likes and attention, and hurt so many people in the process".

Her barrister Avni Djemal said she played no part in dealing the drugs and had been young and naive when the offence happened.

She has spent about two years in prison since she was charged, and Mr Djemal said she was "one of the most co-operative prisoners in the system" with a high chance of rehabilitation.

Roberge will return to the NSW District Court next Thursday for a mention when a date for her sentencing will be determined.