Three Canadians travelling on a luxury cruise are now in custody following the largest drug bust seen in Australia.
The two women, Mélina Roberge and Isabelle Lagace, from Quebec, Canada had spent the past two months aboard the MS Sea Princess cruise ship. Roberge, 22, and Lagace, 28, documented their travels on their social media pages.
The luxury cruise, which is priced at $20,000 a person, holds up to 2,000 passengers. According to The Star, Roberge and Lagace boarded the ship in England in early July. The cruise traveled to a number of ports in North America, Caribbean and South America during its voyage.
Roberge, who lists her occupation on Facebook as an employee at Pandora Jewelry store in downtown Montreal, posted a number of her vacationing photos on Instagram. The pictures show the women getting tattoos in Tahiti, riding ATVs in Peru, enjoying the beaches in Bermuda and frolicking around Times Square, New York.
Their vacation literally came to an end at their final destination in Sydney, Australia when the women were greeted by Australian federal authorities and police dogs who were waiting at the dock. Apparently, Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations had tipped off authorities in Australia.
Enforcement confiscated 200 pounds of cocaine from the women’s luggages and that of another Quebec man, Andre Jorge Tamine, who was aboard the MS Sea Princess. The three suspects were classified as “high-risk travelers” by the agencies. It is still unknown how the two women were discovered and linked to the cocaine shipment.
It is has not been ascertained how Tamine, 63, is linked to the two younger women. The three suspects attempted to smuggle CAD $30.5 million, or just over USD $23 million, worth of cocaine making it the largest drug bust in Australia on either boat or plane.
They are being charged with importing commercial quantity of cocaine and possibly face a lifetime in prison if found guilty.
Police are investigating the origins of the drugs by figuring which of the ports the man and women could have smuggled cocaine out of. Some countries which the cruise stopped by, including Colombia and Peru, are among the world’s top cocaine producers.
Local cocaine prices in Australia are notoriously high and are five times more expensive than it is in Canada. Drug seizures at ports and borders in Australia have also soared in recent years.