Canadians charged in Sydney in $23 million cocaine case

The three passengers- Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Legace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22-had sailed to Sydney from Southhampton in the United Kingdom aboard MS Sea Princess, operated by California-based Princess Cruises.

On Sunday 28 August, ABF officers boarded the Princess Cruises ship Sea Princess when it berthed in Sydney Harbour, and with the assistance of detector dogs, searched a number of passenger cabins on the ship.

Social media reveals Roberge and Lagacé have been enjoying glamorous travels in the months before their arrest.

Pictures show the women, often in barely there bikinis, partaking in a range of activities, including drinking coconuts on the beach, riding quad bikes through the desert while making passage on their $20 000 cruise extravaganza.

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Roberge posted a photo of her new tattoo to Instagram, telling her followers the two weaving lines around her ankle meant: "protection of the traveller".

They appeared Monday at Sydney's Central Local Court and all were formally refused bail. "But traveling with an open mind, ready to taste everything, see everything, learn everything and get yourself out of your comfort probably the best therapy and lesson ever".

Roberge and Lagacé documented the highlights on Instagram.

Australian Border Force Commander Tim Fitzgerald said the illegal drugs have a reported street value of almost $23 million and is the largest narcotics bust in Australia carried by cruise or airline passengers. Worth A$31 million ($23 million), it's the largest ever seizure of narcotics carried by passengers of a cruise ship or airliner in the country.

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Added the official: 'It was during the search of the cabin ... that we identified a number of suitcases in the cabin itself that were locked.

All three people arrested are Canadian nationals, and are believed to have been working for an overseas drug syndicate.

The ship began the cruise in Britain at the start of July and visited Canada, the United States, parts of South America, including Colombia and Peru, and Auckland before arriving in Sydney.

The trio now face life imprisonment if convicted of drug smuggling in Australia, where cocaine prices are among the highest in the world.

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