Quebec woman sentenced to 7.5 years for role in Australian cocaine smuggling
November 03, 2017 - 7:21 AM
A Quebec woman who pleaded guilty to importing a large amount of cocaine into Australia was sentenced Friday to seven-and-a-half years behind bars.
Isabelle Lagace gained international notoriety when social media posts documenting her seven-week luxury cruise vacation went viral after her arrest.
Authorities said she and two other Quebecers boarded the MS Sea Princess in England and were arrested when the ship finally docked in Sydney in August 2016.
Police used sniffer dogs to find what they said was 95 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $30.5 million.
Officials said at the time that 35 kilograms were found in locked suitcases in a cabin shared by Lagace and another Quebec woman.
An additional 60 kilograms was found in the cabin of a man, also from Quebec.
It was described at the time by the Australian Border Force as the largest seizure in Australia of narcotics carried by passengers of a cruise ship or airliner.
The two other Quebecers, facing similar accusations of importing cocaine into Australia, have pleaded not guilty.
Andre Tamine and Melina Roberge will have their respective trials next February.
According to the clerk at the New South Wales district court, Roberge is due back in court Nov. 21.
Lagace, 29, who'd pleaded guilty earlier this year, was sentenced Friday in a Sydney courtroom.
Australian broadcaster Nine Network reported she told the court she assumed responsibility for her actions and that they would haunt her for the rest of her life.
The Sydney Morning Herald said Lagace expressed frustration at the way her case was portrayed in Canadian media, saying the coverage was embarrassing for herself, her friends and her family.
She lamented in an affidavit read in court by the judge that "the defining years of my womanhood will be spent in jail" and that she was angry and remorseful for getting involved with people embroiled in the drug trade.
Lagace told the court she was roped into the scheme when an undisclosed source called in a $20,000 debt but the judge rejected the idea she had no choice but to participate.
Her case received widespread coverage as vacation photos of both her and Roberge — taken during stops in the United States, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific — were widely published on the internet.
A court clerk said with time served in detention, Lagace will be eligible for release in February 2021.
The criminal accusation carried a maximum life sentence.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017