Police are investigating whether ‘spectacular’ Indonesian drug smuggling is linked to dead NSW cocaine diver
An investigation is underway to determine whether a shipment of drugs discovered near a dead diver in the NSW region this week is linked to the largest cocaine seizure in Indonesia.
- The initial consignment of drugs to Newcastle is believed to have weighed up to 300kg
- Detectives believe cocaine found near Java may be part of this transport
- A Cairns man has been charged in connection with the discovery in Newcastle
On Monday morning, 54 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $20 million were found near the body of a professional diver in the port of Newcastle.
The man, from South America, is believed to have lost consciousness and died trying to retrieve blocks of white powder from the hull of a cargo ship that arrived from Argentina on Sunday.
Another 46kg of cocaine from the bulk carrier has made its way onto the streets and police are still looking for a second diver, as well as information on an inflatable boat seen in the area.
James Blee, 62, who lives in Cairns with his wife and two children, was arrested in Far North Queensland as he tried to board a flight to Singapore on Wednesday afternoon.
The Superyacht operator remains behind bars in Cairns after being charged with commercial drug importation and supply offences.
Investigators believe the initial consignment of drugs to Newcastle weighed up to 300kg, with a street value of $120million.
But only 100kg made it into Australian waters and detectives now believe the remaining 200kg could have ended up in Indonesia.
Sailors on Sunday discovered four black packets of cocaine dumped in the ocean near Java’s Merak port.
Indonesian authorities say the drug weighed 179kg – with a market value of over $80million – making it a record for the country.
“This is a spectacular seizure of cocaine considering its enormous value and the impact on the population of illicit drugs,” Indonesian Navy Vice Admiral Ahmadi Heri Purwono said.
He said smuggling drugs by throwing them and a boat into the sea was a common tactic used by traffickers.
No one has been arrested and local authorities are still investigating the find.
The ABC understands that Australian authorities are communicating with their counterparts in South East Asia about a possible connection to Newcastle.
NSW detectives from the Organized Crime Squad flew to Cairns from Sydney on Thursday and will seek Mr Blee’s extradition tomorrow.
Mr Blee could face Sydney Central Local Court as early as Friday afternoon.
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