James Blee charged with manslaughter over death of Brazilian diver

A Queensland superyacht tour operator accused of masterminding a large cocaine importation has now been charged with manslaughter over the death of a Brazilian diver who drowned while allegedly attempting to retrieve the drugs in the Port of Newcastle earlier this year.

James Blake Blee, 62, was intercepted at Cairns airport on May 11, two days after Brazilian national Bruno Borges Martins was found unresponsive in water near a package containing 54 kilograms of cocaine.

James Blee has been charged with manslaughter over the diver’s death.

James Blee has been charged with manslaughter over the diver’s death.

At the time, police linked Martins’ death to the arrival of the bulk carrier ship Areti, which investigators believed had a large amount of cocaine strapped to its hull when it arrived in the Port of Newcastle from Argentina.

In a search of the ship following the death, police uncovered wrappings that indicated about 50 kilograms of cocaine had already come off the ship and probably made its way into the community.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad established Strike Force Groove to further investigate the incident, and since then have been assisted by officers from the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Northern Territory Police and Queensland Police Service.

As part of their investigations, detectives released the images of a man and woman they wished to speak to about what happened. Neither of them has been located.

The images of two people police believe may be able to assist with their investigation.

The images of two people police believe may be able to assist with their investigation.Credit:NSW Police

The man, 32-year-old Jhoni Fernandes Da Silva, is believed to be another diver.

After his arrest in Queensland, Blee was extradited to NSW and charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and large commercial drug supply. He has not applied for bail.