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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published as Superyacht tour operator James Blee charged with Bruno Borges Martins manslaughter