Nearly 200 pounds of cocaine was seized Sunday by Australian police, who arrested three Canadian citizens traveling aboard Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess when it arrived in Sydney. “It’s not the sort of operation where you just turn up to a cruise ship, wander on, and happen to come across 95 kilograms of cocaine,’ said Australian Border Force Regional Commander Tim Fitzgerald. “A significant amount of time and effort when into this particular operation.”
Who Got Busted
Charged in the case were Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28 and Melina Roberce, 22, Canadian nationals who had boarded the ship in Southampton. Border Force officers, with the help of drug-sniffing dogs, found 35 kilograms of cocaine in the cabin shared by the women, and another 60 kilograms in Tamine’s cabin.
Fitzgerald said that his department had worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Border Services Agency, who together had identified the trio of passengers as being “high risk.”
The bust was a record for the Australian agency. Fitzgerald admitted that it was “the biggest seizure of narcotics through our passenger stream,” meaning via cruise ships or airports.
Charged with “importing a commercial quantity of cocaine,” the three did not immediately enter pleas when brought before the Sydney Central Local Court. They will remain in custody until their next appearance, slated for October 26. They could face life behind bars if convicted.
photo: flickr/Ryan O’Meilia