Superyacht owner James Blake Blee, 64, was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, manslaughter, people smuggling, and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime
A superyacht owner bragged to his aspiring actor son in an intercepted jail phone call that the story of their alleged $20million cocaine smuggling plot would make a great Hollywood movie.
Their alleged plan failed when the body of Brazilian diver Bruno Borges Martins, 31, floated to the surface in the Port of Newcastle, NSW, on May 9 last year.
Police believe he was trying to retrieve packages containing more than 50kg of cocaine from the ship’s hull when he drowned before he could bring them to shore.
Superyacht owner James Blake Blee, 64, is in custody after being charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, manslaughter, people smuggling, and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime.
His son James Lake Kusviandy Blee, 21, is also facing drug importation and supply charges, and was earlier this month released on bail following his arrest in November.
According to a police factsheet seen by The Australian Mr Blee boasted to his son: ‘When this is all over … this is going to be the best movie you can ever see mate.
‘These guys come from three countries that are tied up in it: Indonesia, America and South America.’
It’s believed a second Brazillian diver, Jhoni Fernandes Da Silva, allegedly involved in the drug smuggling operation remains on the run, as does a mysterious female accomplice.
The attempted smuggling of the cocaine haul is believed to have unravelled after faulty diving equipment was purchased.
His son, James Lake-Kusviandy Blee, (pictured) has also been charged over his alleged involvement in the $20million cocaine plot
Police were alerted to the failed drug import attempt after the body of a 31-year-old Brazilian scuba diver (left) was found floating near packed bricks of the drug (right) in May last year
Blee Senior had allegedly visited a string of diving shops to pick up equipment with Martins and Da Silva in the days before the operation was to be carried out, according to the police fact sheet.
The 64-year-old allegedly bought a rebreather, which would prevent any bubbles surfacing from the divers and allow them to avoid detection.
A shop attendant had allegedly shown Blee Senior how to change the batteries of the device after he told them a warning sign had appeared on it.
Blee Senior then allegedly told the store worker the problem was fixed.
He was also warned that a ‘basic dive computer’ he’d allegedly bought could not be ‘used in conjunction’ with the rebreather.
Blee Senior was later charged with manslaughter in relation to the faulty dive equipment he allegedly provided.
He was arrested in May last year and has been behind bars since, while his son who was arrested in November, was granted bail last Monday.
Blee Senior is seen being arrested in May last year over his alleged role in the cocaine plot
Blee and his son are allegedly involved in the failed plot to import 108kg of cocaine in the hull of a bulk carrier in May 2022 (pictured)
Police allege the father and son duo were involved in the attempted smuggling of a total of 108kg of cocaine.
In an intercepted phone call from Clarence Correction Centre, near Grafton, Blee is also heard warning his about prison life.
‘You’re going to go into culture shock, and the only way you can withstand the culture shock is … the only thing you can control is what’s between your ears,’ Blee Senior says.
‘And you just need to remember that you’re a fine, fine young man … and at some point this is going to get resolved to the positive and you can’t let the environment affect you. It’s going to be hard.’
While on bail, Blee Junior has to remain of good behaviour, report to police daily and reside at a Queensland address on a $50,000 surety.
There are also restrictions on his use of electronic devices and the internet.
Both Blee men are due to face court in February.
NSW Supreme Court Justice Dina Yehia granted James Lake Kusviandy Blee bail last Monday after concluding a trial will unlikely proceed this year