Third jailed over $29 million coke cruise
A CANADIAN man has been jailed for at least five years and seven months for smuggling 32kg of pure cocaine into Australia on board a cruise liner.
For about 50 days, Andre Tamine cruised the seas on a multi-country trip bound for Australia while in his cabin sat a clandestine haul worth up to $29 million on the street.
He was joined in the plot by two glamorous young women Melina Roberge, 25, and Isabelle Lagace, 30, as well as another man who disembarked the ship before arriving in Australia.
Roberge, an escort, and Lagace, a porn star, filled their social media accounts with pictures that charted the worldwide trip.
The group boarded the seven-week voyage on the Sea Princess at Dover, England on July 9, 2016, and planned to sail to the US, Bermuda, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle as part of an around the world trip.
Tamine, 65, was supposed to be paid 100,000 euros ($A158,000) for his role in getting it into the country aboard a cruise ship.
He will instead spend at least five years and seven months in prison after his attempt to smuggle the large amount of cocaine was thwarted by authorities upon arrival in Sydney.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to importing a border-controlled drug. NSW District Court Judge Kate Traill, in sentencing Tamine on Tuesday to a maximum of eight years and five months in prison, found he was more than a courier in the importation.
He'd boarded the Sea Princess in England with fellow Canadians Roberge, Lagace and a fourth person, after being offered a role during a trip to Morocco.
The fourth person disembarked in Nova Scotia, leaving Tamine and the women to continue on to Sydney with the cruise making stopovers in countries including Ireland, the United States, Panama and Peru.
When authorities raided the trio's two cabins when the ship arrived in Sydney, they found 72.6kg of cocaine but Tamine was sentenced for 42.7kg of the drug found in his cabin.
It amounted to 32.1kg of pure cocaine.
Roberge, 25, and Lagace, 30, have also pleaded guilty to their charges and been jailed.
According to court documents seen by news.com.au Roberge was given gifts and money and introduced by "my sugar daddy" at Montreal night spots to men, some of whom she slept with.
"When we would attend nightclubs together he would introduce me to some of his friends and if I was interested I would spend time with these men," Roberge said in the documents.
"Sometimes there would be intimacy, but not always. I would receive gifts from them or be taken to restaurants."
The judge said Tamine was offered more for his involvement than Roberge and Lagace and she was satisfied his role was greater.
She said his conduct constituted a "significant breach", given the quantity of the drug involved and the estimated street value of up to $29 million.
She accepted he was genuinely remorseful, with the 65-year-old writing in a letter to the court that he felt embarrassed, humiliated and apologetic to the Australian community.
"I stupidly did as others told me to do, rather than stand up for myself," the letter read. "I know what I did was very wrong and that I must be punished for my actions."
In his letter Tamine said drugs caused "nothing but hurt and destruction" and he was thankful the drugs on the cruise ship "were seized and never made it to land".