Wild life of daredevil diver who was found dead in port with bricks of cocaine

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Mystery surrounds an adrenaline junkie who was found dead in murky water with floating bricks of cocaine.

Bruno Borges, a professional diver from Brazil, was discovered on May 9 unconscious and efforts to revive him failed.

Police believe the 31-year-old met his end during a botched attempt by the cartels to flood New South Wales with $20million (£11.4m) worth of cocaine.

Borges may have been hired to retrieve part of a haul stowed in the hull of the Argentinian bulk carrier ship Areti.

He had been using a rebreather in the water, a high-tech piece of equipment which recycles air by removing carbon dioxide. The tool is used by military divers and allows them to remain underwater for hours at a time without emitting detectable bubbles on the surface.

But he was left behind in the icy waters after the smuggling operation went wrong.

As well as the floating bricks wrapped in yellow plastic which were found floating around him, police later discovered a further 54kg of cocaine floating upstream.

But this is thought to be only one part of the original cocaine shipment – as much as 300kg – and the rest remains unaccounted for.

Borges reportedly became involved with drugs smugglers through his work in professional diving circles.

There he worked as a diver carrying out underwater repairs and became friends with fellow diver Johni Fernandes Da Silva, who is wanted by police.

Many divers would accept work with few questions, a source told The Australian, and one of those jobs could have drawn Borges into the world of drug smuggling, leading to his death 15,000 km away.

Rebreathers are difficult to use, with less than one per cent of scuba divers trained in how to use them, with a rebreather expert telling the newspaper his death was likely linked to his inadequate training with the apparatus.

The son of a fisherman, he grew up in São Mateus in Espirito Santo and worked for a time in America before settling in Santos, Latin America's biggest port.

Borges had initially flown from South America to Indonesia where he boarded a boat which set off to Newcastle.

Two days after Borges body was found, Queensland tour operator James Blake Blee arrested, allegedly while trying to flee to Singapore.

The 62-year-old was charged with importing a large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and a large commercial drug supply. He was refused bail.

Blee is the only person yet to be charged over the alleged smuggling and was extradited to New South Wales from Cairns in May. He was reportedly on a one-way ticket as he tried to leave the country, carrying $17,000 in cash and an additional $12,000 in Australian money.

In the same week as the Newcastle discovery, police in Indonesia found 180kg of cocaine floating in Java’s waters worth $118m (£65m).

Both Brazilian and Australian police allege that the cocaine found in Indonesia is linked to the Newcastle shipment.

A manhunt remains underway for Da Silva and a woman he was seen with on CCTV shortly after Borges was found by port workers and the huge cocaine consignment was seized.

Family and friends of the fun-loving Brazilian, who loved extreme sports and ran an abseiling business on the side, were stunned by his death.

Describing him as kind and gentle, he had reportedly told them he was going on a mountain climbing holiday.

"His mother asked for help to bring his body to Brazil and in two days he got 80,000 Brazilian real ($22,850)," relative Raphael Munoz said. "If he was a bad guy he wouldn't get help from anyone."

  • Crime
  • Australia

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