Twist in $20M cocaine scuba diver death as a mystery woman with a green handbag and olive-skinned bloke in boardshorts emerge as key persons of interest in baffling case
- Detectives released images of people of interest in Strike Force Groove probe
- It is investigating the death of the diver who died retrieving 54kg of cocaine
- Superyacht boss Jimmy Blee was first arrest as he tried to leave the country
- Police also probing possible link to 179kg of cocaine found floating off Java
Police have identified a woman and a man from security footage they think can help with investigations following the death of drug mule diver and a staggering 54kg cocaine haul recovered off the Australian coast.
Detectives the pair may be able to help with inquiries following the tragic incident in the port of Newcastle on Monday.
The woman, was seen wearing glasses and blonde highlights, and was carrying a green bag.
The man was believed to be of South American descent.
They were seen on CCTV shortly after the dead diver and the huge cocaine consignment was seized at 9.30am on Monday.
The appeal for help comes after police stopped superyacht boss Jimmy Blee, 62, from leaving the country on board a flight from Cairns to Singapore on Wednesday.
Police want to speak with two people seen on CCTV footage after a diver who died trying to recover 54kg of cocaine from a ship’s hull in Newcastle
Detectives investigating the massive drugs haul want to speak with a blonde or grey-haired woman and an olive-skinned South American man seen on camera
He is expected to be extradited from Queensland to NSW on Friday to face charges of large scale drug smuggling.
Now police have released images of the new pair they now want to quiz over the $20million drug bust.
‘As investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding the death of the diver – who has yet to be formally identified – detectives believe the man and woman may be able to assist with inquiries,’ said a police spokesman.
‘The man is described as being of South American appearance, about 178cm tall and of an athletic build.
‘The woman is described as being of a thin build, about 150-160cm tall and has a tanned complexion with blonde/grey hair.’
Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said the pair may have been in Newcastle between May 1 and 11, and warned the man is allegedly dangerous.
He alleged both entered the country illegally via ship.
The appeal for help comes after police stopped superyacht boss Jimmy Blee, 62, from leaving the country on board a flight from Cairns to Singapore on Wednesday
Detectives launched an interstate taskforce, taking in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory, after the drug smuggling operation went tragically wrong on Monday.
A diver – wearing sophisticated breathing gear which disguised his movements and hid any tell-tale trail of bubbles from his scuba gear – was found dying in the water.
He had been trying to recover a $20million drug haul hidden in a ship’s hull and was found surrounded by large floating bricks of cocaine wrapped in yellow plastic.
Police dive teams found a further 54kg of the drug in the underwater sea chest inside the hull of the Argentinean cargo ship which had arrived in Newcastle on Sunday evening.
Now detectives suspect it may be linked to a similar ‘spectacular’ cocaine discovery found floating in the ocean off Indonesia at the weekend.
How the dive tragedy unfolded and the drug haul was revealed
Police are probing to see if there is a connection between the two after 179kg of the drug was discovered in the water near Java’s Merak port on Sunday.
The diver’s body was found surrounded by floating sealed yellow bricks of cocaine
The Indonesian haul – valued at $80million – was found in four black plastic blocks, floating in the ocean off the docks.
‘This is a spectacular seizure of cocaine considering its huge value and the impact on the people as a result of the illicit drugs,’ said Indonesian Navy Vice Admiral Ahmadi Heri Purwono.
No-one has been arrested in connection with the discovery and local investigations are continuing, but it is understood Australian police have been in touch with their Indonesian counterparts.
‘The logistics of this operation were huge with many moving parts and we’re also looking at Indonesia and what may have happened there,’ added Det Supt Critchlow.
NSW detectives suspect 300kg was originally stashed in the haul in the hull of the Argentinean cargo ship which docked in Newcastle.
They believe 46kg was successfully removed in Australia before the tragic death of the drug mule diver, leaving 200kg still to be accounted for.