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From prison in Australia to author: Quebec cocaine smuggler and wannabe influencer tells her tale

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In 2018, a Granby woman made headlines around the world when she was one of three Quebecers convicted of smuggling 95 kilograms of cocaine into Sydney, Australia aboard a luxury cruise ship.

Melina Roberge told the court she'd been recruited to smuggle the drugs and had accepted the job in exchange for the opportunity to post glamourous selfies on Instagram while in exotic locations across the globe.

After being released from an Australian prison, Roberge returned home last spring and co-authored a book about her experience with journalist Claudia Berthiaume, entitled, 'Sans Filtre.'

Melina Roberge spoke with CTV News Montreal anchor Maya Johnson.

MJ: So first off, you were released from prison in the middle of a pandemic after being behind bars for five years, far away from family and friends. What was it like to come back to Canadian soil to see your family again?

MR: I think I had a certain idea of what the transition would be like and it really wasn't that like that. I thought, I just went through five years in jail. So what could be worse? There's no way I'm going to struggle. I'm just going to go back to work and everything's going to be fine. But of course, when you live in jail there are certain things that you can't say. If you're frustrated about certain things, you can't talk about it. You basically have to keep your emotions to yourself. So I think what I did was bottle up a lot of things while I was there, and when I came back, I just did the same thing. So the transition was quite hard. In a matter of two weeks, I went back to work and I noticed that my brain couldn't register information. I could not function normally. I went back to my life that I had before, which was going out all the time and drinking and spending all my money on ridiculous things.

MJ: So people will hear that and think she didn't learn any lessons after five years in jail.

MR: My mom thought the same thing, to be honest, and I could understand why. But we had the conversation not long ago and she said you know what, I wasn't watching what you were doing but at the same time, she thought she's still in her 20s and everybody in their 20s does the same thing so she maybe she needs to do it again to really see that's not what she wants to do anymore. And that's what exactly what happened. And she was the one that pushed me towards therapy as well, which really helped me at that time.

MJ: So you got caught up in a certain kind of high-end lifestyle, going out several nights a week, lavish meals, champagne flowing, older men -- so-called sugar daddies -- paying for anything. Did you have any idea that eventually there would be a price to pay?

MR: No, and that's what's unfortunate. I think with the generation that I lived in back then at 22 years old, but also the generation that's coming up right now, free things aren't weird. It's becoming the norm to be offered trips and being invited to big tables and big restaurants because you're pretty. Everything is just -- it's going towards looks and the easy way and that's what I lived in. But I felt like when I came back it was worse, which is where the book came from a little bit.

MJ: I want to ask you about that because some people may even now be watching and judging you, thinking, she's a superficial person, she's looking for more attention. She's trying to profit from a crime essentially. What can I possibly have to learn from reading this? What do you say to those people about why you wrote this book?

MR: Well, I think it would be hard for anybody to understand, and like I said, I could have had anything. I had the chance to do a movie or a documentary, but I chose the book because first of all, everything was around my looks and my pictures. And I was judged for what I did, which was really bad, and I'll never excuse what I did. But with the book I felt like the only thing you can concentrate on are my words. I touched a lot on social media and the influence that it can bring in your life and the negativity of social media and all the comparison that we do with ourselves. If I had a girl that came with that message and taught me what she knew, maybe I would have taken a different path. Maybe I would have thought about it twice maybe I would have reconsidered my choices. And I think the biggest lesson in life is there's no such thing as a free meal. [If] it's free, then you should ask yourself some questions and say why would why do I deserve free things all the time? How am I more special than this other person?

Responses have been edited for clarity and concision.

 

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