A veteran superyacht captain and diver, whose tours his company touted as “beyond legend”, has been arrested after 110 pounds of cocaine bricks were found near a diver’s washed-up body, according to Australian authorities.
James “Jimmy” Blee was arrested at Cairns Airport on Wednesday afternoon after attempting to board a plane that was supposed to take him from Queensland to Singapore, police said. The 62-year-old Australian citizen was charged with two drug import offenses The guard.
While New South Wales authorities sought Blee’s extradition to their state on Thursday, investigators were working to determine how an illegal shipment of drugs worth more than $20 million entered the waters of Newcastle Port on Monday .
The loot was discovered shortly after an unconscious man was found on a nearby river bank wearing sophisticated scuba gear to hide traces of underwater activity on the surface. The man, whom authorities have not identified, died at the scene. It was assumed that he was South American.
South Wales detective Robert Critchlow told reporters it appeared the man was “left for dead” at the scene by at least one other accomplice, Australian news agency ABC reported.
“People don’t dive alone,” Critchlow added The Australian. “There is something concerning that there are obviously more people involved than the dead man.”
It was not immediately clear if authorities believed Blee was present at Newcastle Port this week.
The 62-year-old is a “maritime professional and dedicated marine conservationist with more than 30 years of luxury sailing experience throughout Southeast Asia,” according to a website for North Queensland Superyacht Marine & Tours, a company he co-founded upon his return. two years ago to Australia. Prior to 2020, Blee had lived and worked in Indonesia for decades, advising and chartering luxury yacht voyages and “expedition-style” cruises, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“With his 25 years of experience and contacts in Asia, Jimmy has a network that stretches far and wide across the entire region,” his bio reads.
The captain’s skills in navigating Southeast Asian waters are “beyond legendary,” he boasted on his LinkedIn, making him “in high demand” as a tour guide. Also an “enthusiastic diver” by his own admission, Bleee’s biography states that he has completed more than 3,000 dives, most of them “in the waters of eastern Indonesia”.
The pandemic has apparently wiped out his maritime business interests in Indonesia, although Blee is optimistic about the future. “Once post-COVID really kicks in, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have some adventures,” he said on a May 2021 podcast episode superyacht radio, according to the Daily Mail. “Pretty exciting times for everyone.”
On Thursday, a South American cargo ship remained docked near the scene of the crime, which police said was from Argentina and was transporting a shipment of soybean powder to Newcastle on Sunday evening. Authorities said they believe the massive shipment of drugs was strapped to and hidden inside the vessel, which is registered in the Marshall Islands as Areti GR Majuro.
Port officials spotted a small inflatable boat and a 16-foot aluminum speedboat near the ship that night, Critchlow said. Only a “portion” of the loot is believed to have ended up in the water, ABC News reported, with more than 400 pounds of cocaine believed to have gone unreported.
“It’s a sophisticated, high-end operation,” the detective claimed.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/james-blee-arrested-at-australian-airport-over-dollar20m-cocaine-haul-found-floating-near-lifeless-diver?source=articles&via=rss James Blee arrested at Australian airport found floating near lifeless diver with over $20 million worth of cocaine