This week, Canadian national Melina Roberge appeared in Australian court for a sentencing hearing. The 24-year-old was part of an international trio aboard the Sea Princess arrested for attempting to smuggle $16 million of cocaine into Sydney in 2016. According to reports, Roberge had been set to stand trial last month. However, the schedule experienced a delay when she switched her plea to guilty.
When speaking to the court, Roberge explained that she initially refused to participate in the operation, but was convinced to agree when she was told her only job was to enjoy the vacation and act as a cover for the others who would be watching over the drugs. She admitted to wanting photos of herself in exotic locations that would garner attention on social media.
Last November, fellow Canadian Isabelle Lagace was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison for her involvement in the same scheme, which set records for the amount of cocaine smuggled into Australia through a sea or air port. Roberge will hear her sentence some time next week.
Never Underestimate the Reality of International Laws
In the wake of these prosecutions, we are reminded of just how important it is to think carefully before agreeing to any activity that may seem less than legal. Unfortunately, we have seen many cases like the one above, where individuals looking for a dream vacation or some other monetary or social reward agree to participate in illegal behavior, without thinking of the consequences.
Border patrol around the world is especially proficient in detecting illegal substances. Between innovative technology and well-trained drug sniffing dogs, it is highly unlikely for drugs to be successfully smuggled through sea ports. And when individuals are caught, the repercussions are often far more severe than they may have expected. Around the world, drug smuggling is a serious crime and should be respected as such.
While drug smuggling is on the extreme end of the scale, this discussion offers a prime opportunity to remind all cruise passengers and crewmembers how important it is to understand the laws of the international locations you will be visiting. Although you may think that the same laws apply everywhere, this is simply not the case. What may be legal in one country, may not be legal in the next. As a result, it is always helpful to know what may or may not get you in trouble with the law, before you set off.
Let Us Help You Handle Your Case
While these sorts of crimes do not generally create a dangerous environment for other passengers, things can take a wrong turn at a moment’s notice. And if an incident that occurs during your cruise has caused harm to you or a family member, rest assured that you do not have to navigate the tricky international legal waters on your own.
At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we strive to ensure that all individuals who experience an accident or injury at sea are given the attention and support that they deserve. After all, a cruise should be a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend your time.
So if you have suffered at sea and are seeking maritime lawyers with an opinion you can trust, you have come to the right place. We stop at nothing to ensure our clients receive just resolution. Ready to take the next step? Then do not hesitate to contact us.