A scuba diver and marine tour operator has been arrested on narcotics charges at Cairns airport in Queensland while trying to board a flight to Singapore, according to Australian police.
He was detained in connection with investigations into the discovery of a rebreather diver’s body beside packages of cocaine in New South Wales on 9 May, as reported on Divernet.
Arrested two days later by Queensland Police with the Australian Border Force, James “Captain Jimmy” Blee, 62 and from Queensland, was charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, and large commercial drug supply. He was remanded in custody, pending a request for his extradition to New South Wales.
Blee runs North Queensland Superyacht Marine & Tours, which arranges “adventure activity” programmes including scuba diving for superyacht owners and captains visiting Australian and south-east Asian waters. His personal biography describes him as a dedicated conservationist and a keen diver who has logged more than 3,000 dives, mainly in eastern Indonesia.
Police now believe that a second diver was involved in operations to remove a consignment of cocaine from the hull of a ship docked in Newcastle, New South Wales, although they have also stated that Blee is not at present thought to have been that diver. A task force, Strike Force Groove, has been set up to co-ordinate continuing state and federal investigations.
Steve has been a scuba diver for 30 years and became editor of Diver magazine in 1996, following 10 years with BBC World Service and the 10 before that in motoring journalism.