Three Canadian nationals on a cruise ship have been arrested and charged with possession of a commercial quantity of cocaine by Australian authorities. Close to 95kg of the narcotic were found by the police during a search of the passengers' cabins when the vessel docked at Sydney harbour on 28 August.
Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, were immediately taken into custody and charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. On Monday they appeared before Sydney's Central Local Court where they were formally denied bail. They are expected to remain in jail till their next hearing on 26 October and according to the Australian Federal Police, could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The cruise ship that began its tour from Britain in July, made its way to Canada, the United States, and various parts of South America, including Colombia and Peru before heading for Auckland and then Australia. Police have not confirmed at which port the man and two women boarded the ship or from where the cocaine was procured.
Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner Clive Murray stated that the accused were part of an international drug syndicate. "These syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs in our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them," he said according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The joint operation was conducted by the AFP and Australian Border Force with co-operation from the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations, New Zealand Customs Service and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Going by the Global Drug Survey 2016 which puts the average price of a gram of cocaine in Australia at £150 ($197), the quantity of the drug seized would be worth £14,250,000 ($18,708,112).