The 29-year-old French-Canadian woman has pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle 23kg of cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship

A French-Canadian tourist, whose name has been suppressed by the courts, is facing the prospect of life in prison after admitting to smuggling 23kg of cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship.

The 29-year-old told Sydney District Court that she had smuggled the drugs because she feared for her family’s life if she didn’t.

She said she had got into debt after borrowing money. When she had to repay the debt, she was told by those who had lent her the money that she had to take a suitcase of cocaine through customs in Sydney.

The French-Canadian woman then flew from Canada to England, boarding the cruise ship at Dover. She had not paid for the flight or the cruise.

Onboard, she had met six men and one woman, who she shared a cabin with during the six-week cruise.

The woman said the night before docking in Sydney, a man had put something in her empty suitcase in her cabin.

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She was later arrested along with another woman and a man on suspicion of importing cocaine after police boarded the cruise ship.

Officers found 23.864kg of pure cocaine in her suitcase. She denies touching the suitcase.

According to, the French-Canadian tourist told the court she had smuggled the drugs because she knew the people who had lent her the money “would threaten me and my family. I had no choice,” she added.

“They came and told me I had to do this. I had to take the trip and I had to bring a bag,” stated the woman, who has not named those behind the drug smuggling.

The woman faces a maximum penalty of life in jail.

The judge at Sydney District Court said she would reserve her decision. She also ruled that the identity of the woman and her co-accused would be suppressed for several months.