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James Blee, 62, linked to discovery of dead diver near $20million cocaine haul is refused bail

The superyacht tour operator wears a tropical shirt for a brief court appearance for his alleged involvement in a $20 million cocaine smuggling ring

  • Suspected drug importer linked to dead Newcastle diver denied bail
  • He was in court for alleged involvement in a $20 million cocaine smuggling ring
  • James Lake Blee, 62, was extradited from Queensland on Friday
  • He was arrested on Wednesday allegedly trying to flee Australia for Singapore.

A suspected drug importer linked to the discovery of a dead diver near a $20 million cocaine haul in Newcastle has been formally denied bail.

James Lake Blee appeared in Parramatta Local Court via video link on Saturday morning after being extradited from Queensland overnight.

The 62-year-old donned a tropical turtle top during his appearance.

James Lake Blee (pictured) was denied bail Saturday after he was charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and a large commercial supply of drugs.

James Lake Blee (pictured) was denied bail Saturday after he was charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and a large commercial supply of drugs.

He was arrested on Wednesday allegedly trying to flee Australia for Singapore.

Blee’s lawyers did not request bail and his case was adjourned for Friday in the Central Local Court. She was formally denied bail.

Police said the 62-year-old man was charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and a large commercial supply of drugs.

Blee is a superyacht tour operator in Cairns, where he runs North Queensland Superyacht Marine and Tours.

Blee (pictured) is a superyacht tour operator in Cairns, where he runs North Queensland Superyacht Marine and Tours (File Image)

Blee (pictured) is a superyacht tour operator in Cairns, where he runs North Queensland Superyacht Marine and Tours (File Image)

His arrest comes as NSW Police released CCTV footage of two people wanted in connection with the death of the diver found near bricks of cocaine in Newcastle Harbour.

Police said Friday that the couple had entered the country illegally via boat.

One is a man described as having a South American appearance, 178 cm tall and an athletic build.

The other is a woman, described as slim, tanned, about 150-160cm tall and with blonde or gray hair.

Police revealed on Tuesday that the diver, identified as a foreign national, was found unconscious in the water in Newcastle Harbor and could not be revived.

Port workers located the dying diver floating in Newcastle Harbor at 9:30am on Monday, surrounded by yellow packages containing 54kg of cocaine.

Port workers located the dying diver floating in Newcastle Harbor at 9:30am on Monday, surrounded by yellow packages containing 54kg of cocaine.

The hail of drugs and how the diver died were revealed.  James Lake Blee allegedly tried to flee Australia to Singapore

The hail of drugs and how the diver died were revealed. James Lake Blee allegedly tried to flee Australia to Singapore

He was found about 54 kilograms of cocaine and is believed to have been trying to retrieve the drugs.

It had sophisticated equipment, including a “rebreather” apparatus that allows the user to breathe underwater without telltale bubbles appearing on the surface.

The police investigation into the diver, which includes federal and immigration authorities, is now also working with foreign officials.

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