Superyacht tour operator James Blee charged with Bruno Borges Martins manslaughter

An eccentric superyacht tour operator has been charged with manslaughter and smuggling a drug mule in connection with an alleged cocaine conspiracy worth over $20 million in the Hunter region of NSW earlier this year.

The body of a diver, 31-year-old Brazilian Bruno Borges Martins, was found floating in the water by emergency services near the port of Newcastle on May 9.

Despite the efforts of witnesses and paramedics, Mr. Martins could not be revived.

Camera iconBruno Borges Martins, 31, was found dead near an alleged shipment of cocaine. Facebook Credit: Provided
It is alleged that he was smuggled into Australia.  LinkedIn
Camera iconIt is alleged that he was smuggled into Australia. LinkedIn Credit: Provided

Authorities discovered 54kg of cocaine nearby and suspected Mr Martins had drowned while trying to retrieve it.

Police described the alleged drug operation as “high end” and “sophisticated”.

Strike Force Groove was set up to investigate the incident, which resulted in the arrest of superyacht tour operator James “Jimmy” Blee in Cairns on May 11 as he prepared to board a one-way flight to Singapore.

Police have previously alleged Mr Blee traveled from Indonesia to Darwin with Mr Borges and another man in the days before the death and discovery of the cocaine.

Police inspect a block of cocaine found near Mr. Borges.  New South Wales Police
Camera iconPolice inspect a block of cocaine found near Mr. Borges. New South Wales Police Credit: Provided

It was further alleged that Mr Blee and Mr Borges were filmed by CCTV buying high-end scuba gear from a Newcastle dive shop.

The 62-year-old has been charged for his alleged role in importing cocaine and remains in court.

After further enquiries, Strike Force detectives and Australian Border Force officers attended a correctional facility in Grafton and arrested Mr Blee at around 11am on Tuesday.

James Blake Blee
Camera iconJames Blake Blee was arrested at a North Queensland airport and allegedly attempted to flee the country on a flight to Singapore. Credit: Provided

He has since been charged with manslaughter, two counts of knowingly trafficking in persons and trafficking in the proceeds of crime.

Police will allege Mr Blee engaged in unlawful activity which resulted in the death of Mr Martins

They also allege he illegally smuggled Mr Martins and an associate from Indonesia to Australia.

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Camera iconMr Blee is being escorted through the Cairns Domestic Airport terminal by Queensland police and detectives for extradition to NSW. Brendan Radke Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Blee has been remanded in custody and is due to appear in Downing Center Local Court on October 5.

Strike Force Groove investigations are ongoing.