A superyacht tour operator who has been accused of playing a major role in an alleged $20 million cocaine smuggling operation was arrested at Cairns airport on Wednesday for allegedly attempting to flee to Singapore.
James Blake Blee, a 62-year-old self-proclaimed “captain” and the handy operator, has lived quite an interesting life: auditioning for Australian Survivor, appearing in an Indonesian TV commercial and owning several businesses in Indonesia, according to the report. Daily Mail.
However, the ‘captain’ will appear in Cairns Magistrates’ Court after being arrested for attempting to flee the country, police say.
Blee is the co-founder and operator of North Queensland Marine & Tours, which describes itself as “a go-to contact for all superyacht owners” planning to explore Australian or Asian waters.
NSW Police are seeking Blee’s extradition as investigations into a large shipment of cocaine arrived at the port of Newcastle on the hull of a ship from Argentina on Sunday afternoon.
The amount of cocaine, worth more than $20 million, was discovered after emergency services were called to investigate the body of a stranded diver on the Hudson River, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Paramedics and bystanders attempted CPR on the man, but he died at the scene. The drugs were found nearby.
Police believe the diver’s death was linked to the arrival of the cocaine, which investigators estimate at more than 50 kilograms.
Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said on Monday investigations suggested two other men were involved in smuggling the drugs into Australia.
“Setting up a shipment of this scale is quite a complicated arrangement, and they are very, very professional,” he said.
Police do not believe Blee, whose website describes himself as a “maritime professional and dedicated marine advocate with over 30 years of experience in luxury yachting throughout Southeast Asia. “, was one of the boat’s drivers.
Blee’s website biography states that “with his 25 years of experience and contacts in Asia, Jimmy has a network that extends far and wisely [sic] throughout the region”.
After being arrested, Blee went to the Cairns Watch House and was charged with importing a large quantity of a border-controlled drug and a large commercial drug supply.