They set sail on the MS Sea Princess from Southampton, UK, in June, and cruised to Colombia, French Polynesia and Peru before heading to Sydney from New York.
A court heard today that Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberge, 23, were part of a seven-member drug cartel in charge of the ‘floating warehouse’ of cocaine.
The women, from Quebec, stashed 29kg of the white powder in a suitcase in their tiny shared cabin, it was alleged.
The third co-accused in Australia’s biggest drug importation by a passenger vessel, 64-year-old Andre Tamine, had up to 70kg in three suitcases.
Lagace entered a guilty plea to the charge of attempting to import a commercial quantity of cocaine while Ms Roberge claims to have been unaware of the cocaine in her friend’s luggage.
Lawyer Ragni Mathur has said Ms Roberge should escape being committed for trial as she was only guilty by association with Lagace.
CCTV footage shows Ms Roberge embarking the cruise ship with ‘nothing in her possession except a wallet or mobile phone’.
Crown Prosecutor Lincoln Crowley said:
The cocaine, 29kg of it, was found in a cabin occupied by Ms Roberge and Ms Lagace for the past 40 days, packed up, strapped up, taped up and sitting in a suitcase and would be worth a considerable amount of money.
Two women are minding the cocaine. Ms Lagace and Ms Roberge are warehousing a quantity of cocaine.
It is in effect a floating warehouse. They are sitting on this until they get to Australia.
The maximum penalty for smuggling a commercial quantity of cocaine in Australia is life imprisonment.
Mr Tamine is to stand trial on February 3, and Ms Lagace will be sentenced on the same date.
Magistrate Williams will decide whether Ms Roberge will commit to trial on December 21.