Police fear for man’s safety as investigation into diver’s death and cocaine haul ramps up

Police are fearing for the safety of a man they believe could be linked to the death of a diver and the alleged importation of $20 million of cocaine into the port of Newcastle.

The man is described as being of South American appearance, about 178 centimetres tall and of an athletic build.

Police have released these images of a man and woman linked to the Newcastle cocaine haul. (NSW Police)

The woman is described as being of a thin build, about 150 to 160 centimetres tall and has a tanned complexion with blonde/grey hair.

Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said police hold concerns for the man’s welfare.

“This man could be a foreign national with limited English so he could be at risk in the community,” he said.

“It’s likely these people were in the Newcastle area between May 1 and 11, conducting certain activities around the Wallsend and Newcastle areas.

“We believe these people have some knowledge of what happened.”

Critchlow added there was a further 50 kilograms of cocaine imported at the time.

“Regretfully, at this stage that’s still in the community,” he said.

The dead man was wearing highly technical diving gear including breathing equipment that doesn’t emit any bubbles.

The ship, which had travelled from Argentina, arrived in Newcastle on Sunday evening and later that night a rubber ducky and a tinny were seen travelling to it.

The vessel was carrying soybean powder and police are looking at whether the drugs were attached to the outside of its hull.

A dead scuba diver found near more than 50kg of cocaine at a Newcastle shipping port has been identified as a foreign national.
A dead scuba diver found near more than 50kg of cocaine at a Newcastle shipping port has been identified as a foreign national. (NSW Police)

Blee was charged with the federal crime of importing a large commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and the NSW crime of large commercial drug supply.

Blee is the co-founder of a company that operates tours and cruising plans for superyachts in North Queensland.

James "Jimmy" Blee has been arrested as he allegedly attempted to flee Australia just days after a scuba diver was found dead and $20 million worth of cocaine was discovered in Newcastle.
James “Jimmy” Blee was arrested as he allegedly attempted to flee Australia just days after a scuba diver was found dead and $20 million worth of cocaine was discovered in Newcastle. (9News)

Earlier police said they were searching for more people involved in the man’s death and the drug haul.

“There’s evidently more people involved than the dead man,” Superintendent Rob Critchlow claimed on Wednesday.

“As most people would realise, people don’t scuba dive alone.

“There’s obviously safety protocols even with people involved in offending.

Newcastle cocaine drug bust Hunter River dead scuba diver
The dead scuba diver and suspected drugs were found in the vicinity of this large ship berthed in Newcastle. (9News)

“It was quite complicated, some of the devices they used and the presence of two boats indicate at least two other people.

“This man’s been left for dead basically, either to die or when he did die, these people fled.

“So it’s quite disgusting … regardless of what he was involved in.”

$20 million worth of cocaine was recovered from the scene.
$20 million worth of cocaine was recovered from the scene. (Nine)

Inquiries into the death and the cocaine discovery are continuing.

“Our investigation is very much on an international syndicate with the capability and capacity to import a significant amount of drugs and facilitate people across borders to assist with that,” AFP Detective Superintendent Matt Ciantar said.

The AFP is also conducting inquiries offshore.

Reference-www.9news.com.au

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