Two women and one man were arrested on Sunday for smuggling over $30 million worth of cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship.
Canadian nationals Melina Roberge, 23, Isabelle Lagacé, 28, and Andre Tamine, 63, were apprehended on Aug. 28 after a search of passenger cabins on the MS Sea Princess cruise ship by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers and detector dogs uncovered over 200 pounds of cocaine packed in suitcases.
The recovery marks the largest amount of drugs seized off a cruise vessel coming into Australia, said the ABF.
It’s not yet clear if Tamine was working with the two women.
Australian officials worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, New Zealand Customs Service, and the Canada Border Services Agency.
In 2011, the Québec police noted that Canadian and Québec-based traffickers had an interest in Australia and its high cocaine prices due to the difficulty of getting it in the country, according to TheStar.com.
“These syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all of the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs into our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them,” ABF Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Border Command, Clive Murray said in a news release.
Canadian Border Service Agency identified the threesome as “high-risk travellers,” reported TheStar.com
The first priority of Australia is the protection of its citizens and has made it its mission to stop prohibited drugs from entering the country.
“The AFP [Australian Federal Police] is committed to working with its partner agencies to protect the community by stopping these dangerous drugs making their way to Australian communities, and bringing those responsible to justice,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Operations Shane Connelly said.
Roberge and Lagacé documented their two-month trip aboard the luxurious vessel on Instagram. During the last several weeks, photos of the bikini-clad pair soaking up the sun and culture in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia dominated their social media feed.
The three suspects’ journey across the globe began in Britain in early July and spanned several ports in the Caribbean, North America, and South America before it docked in Sydney Harbour on Sunday.
The trio were charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine and could face life in prison.