A man believed to be involved with a plot to smuggle large quantities of cocaine into Australia has been arrested.
James “Jimmy” Blee was arrested at Cairns airport as he allegedly tried to board a flight to Singapore on a one way ticket with a large sum of cash. Mr Blee is the co-founder of a company that operates tours and cruising plans for superyachts in North Queensland.
He appeared at Cairns Magistrates Court, charged with commercial drug importation and supply offences. Mr Blee was denied bail on the grounds that he is a flight risk as an experienced skipper and with his wife currently in Indonesia.
CCTV footage shows Mr Blee and the deceased diver visiting dive shops in the Newcastle area. The diver was later found unconscious near 50kg of cocaine with a street value of $20 million, the diver died at the scene after attempts to resuscitate him.
Detective Superintendent Critchlow said:
The plot was “clearly a high level, very organised sophisticated operation spanning the globe, directly moving large amounts of dangerous drugs from South America across the oceans into Australia”.
Police have also released CCTV images of two other people they believe can help with their inquiries. The man is described as of South American appearance, about 178 centimetres tall and of an athletic build. The woman is described as being of a thin build, about 150 to 160 centimetres tall and has a tanned complexion with blonde/grey hair.
NSW Police Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said:
“The people that we certainly believe may have some knowledge of what’s happened, and we really wish to speak to them to get their versions and also gather any evidence they may have. especially the male, he could be vulnerable in the community. We’ve had someone who’s died. I don’t want to prejudge his involvement in this, if any offence at all.
In further developments the Indonesian authorities seized 179kg of cocaine after it was apparently dumped into the sea near Java. It is believed that this is part of the same shipment. The haul which has a value of $118 million is Indonesia’s biggest ever seizure.
Images from NSW Police